The Red Clay Reporter has a background in newspapers, tried his hand at corporate communications and is now the editor of a website which will remain unnamed.
I spent 17 years working as a reporter and editor for various newspapers in San Francisco, San Mateo and San Jose before moving to Georgia. I have held just about every position possible at a newspaper, from reporter, columnist, sports editor and copy desk chief to managing editor. I figured continuing my career in the Greater Atlanta area would not be a problem.
Atlanta doesn’t have nearly as many newspapers as the Bay Area, however, and only a handful are dailies. The Atlanta Journal Constitution is the major paper in the state, and, like most newspapers in the country, is drowning in red ink (and they buy it by the barrel). In the few years I have been living here, the AJC has had at least three rounds of layoffs that I am aware of. Judging from the reaction of folks who I’ve talked to about the AJC, the collective opinion is that it is a liberal rag, intent on ruining Georgia for the good, law-abiding people. It has been, to hear them tell it, just waiting for someone like Barack Obama to come along so the editors and go out, hand-in-hand, turning ’merica into a socialist/fascist state. Oh, and they really hate the editorial cartoonist, Mike Luckovich.
The rest of the papers are weeklies, some of which do a really good job. But the majority of them are worthless. They are “boutique” papers that cater to a specific towns and, for all intents and purposes, act as printed blogs; sort of a vanity press for people who have a lot of money and nothing to do with their time. In looking through them, I couldn’t spot “journalism” with a magnifying glass.
And there is an alternative paper in town – Creative Loafing – which is similar to the SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly or Metro. Good for finding out what you may want to do this weekend.
So good newspaper jobs are hard to come by here. I have applied to several of these papers, and was even offered the editor’s position of a small paper in a tiny town near Athens (home of the University of Georgia – Go Dawgs!). The idea of getting back to true community journalism was exciting, and I accepted the job. This was on a Thursday. I was told to start the following Wednesday. In the intervening six days, the publisher recalculated what he had offered to pay me and realized that it was about 20 percent more than he could really afford, so he amended his offer sheet. He wasn’t going to pay me very much to start with, and 20 percent less than not very much was less than I could to afford to live on, even if I resorted to a just-out-of-college lifestyle. So I declined.
I also did two years on the Dark Side, pushing press releases and advitorial for a software company. Having been on the receiving end of press releases, it was weird to be on the other side. I know that many newspaper people make the move to corporate communications for the money. I tried it, but it just didn’t like it.
I am now working for an Internet startup as the editor, in charge of all content. It’s an interesting job, as the subject matter I’m working with is different every day. Much of the copy is fascinating and I’m learning more than I ever thought possible, so, no complaints here.
And, since I’m telling you all this, I might as well say I’m trying to write a book. A novel. A mystery, actually. Don’t hold your breath, though. I’ve been futzing with this thing for several years. But if things start happing on this front, I’ll let you know.
OK, so now you know more about me than you probably want. Thanks for reading.