- Comp & Benefits
- Work/Life Balance
- Senior Management
- Career Opportunities
I have been working at The ColumbianPros
As long as you're well-liked by the bosses and stay on top of the breaking news on your beat, you can have a fair amount of freedom to decide which stories to work on and to pursue fulfilling projects. Reporters are smart, hard-working and fun to be around. Downtown Vancouver is a much nicer place to work than many of the towns folks on staff came from.
This is probably one of the better jobs for journalists in the Portland metro area. Reasonable hours, community relevance, daily work, and -- unlike other papers in the area, which seem to rely entirely on nepotism to fill openings -- positions at The Columbian are actually posted publicly, so any qualified applicant has a chance to try out.Cons
The bosses offer very little coaching and editing -- if you're reasonably competent most stories will run as written. There seems to be no broad quest to get the best possible work into print.
As is common with small and medium-sized papers, reporters have to contribute fluffy features to special sections on a rotating schedule, and also have to work fairly regular night and weekend shifts.
Some of the editors are paranoid and if you get on their bad sides it's hard to recover. How to get on an editor's bad side: Make an egregious mistake in print - fair enough; tick off a powerful person or his/her friend with your totally legitimate reporting - not fair at all; get labeled as a gossip or be overheard talking about your boss - both unfair and idiotic, given all the research into the benefits of workplace gossip.
From the publisher down through mid-level newsroom managers, leaders often seem lazy, showing up after 8 a.m., leaving before 5 p.m., working on freelance assignments while on the clock, taking long lunches, taking entire days off to make up for a few extra hours worked. Even though reporters are hourly and forbidden to work more than 40 hours a week, I know many who secretly put in extra time because of passion for their work. At the same time, salaried bosses seemed to go out of their ways to work less than full time. NOT inspiring.
Also, nobody had received raises for several years when I left, and I hear that the pay freeze remains in effect. A five-year pay freeze is bad news for employee morale -- especially in a company where employees are skilled at digging up public records and are very aware of the hefty raise the publisher gave himself before putting the company into bankruptcy. On the other hand, this is the newspaper industry. What do you expect? Odds are that budgets will continue to shrink for the foreseeable future here and anywhere else in print.Advice to ManagementAdvice
All managers: Get more involved in the work of the people you directly supervise, be more visible around the paper, do actual work that results in output your employees can see or talk to them about what you're doing so you don't come across as such slackers all the time.
Editors: Make more time for reporters so they can bounce ideas off you, talk to you about how they may want to approach and shape their stories, and count on you to give productive feedback when their work is turned in.
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