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22nd Century Media Reviews

Updated February 3, 2017
14 reviews

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14 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    "Great place to flourish as an editor"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Editor
    Former Employee - Editor
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at 22nd Century Media (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The experience you gain as an Editor with 22nd Century cannot be matched. While both Editors and Assistant Editors are expected to work hard, they are constantly challenged to discover, seek out, write and edit stories the community craves.

    While it's not always an easy gig, 22nd Century Media Editors are trained to deliver the complete package. From print and web stories to photography and social media, the company helps transform its employees into well-rounded individuals who can tell an accurate and interesting story in a variety of ways.

    If you're truley interested in being a journalist in the 21st century, 22CM will push and challenge you to thrive in ways you never would have expected. And if you put in the time and effort, you're often able to take on more responsibilty and move up in the company.

    Cons

    It's not easy. Anyone who knows journalism knows it's not a 9-5 business. You're expected to work hard, which sometimes includes nights and weekends, and you're probably not going to break the bank doing it. Don't go into journalism for the money.

    Advice to Management

    Put in the time and effort to help editors grow, and give them the tools they need to thrive.


  2. "Have more respect for yourself than to stay here long"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Editorial
    Former Employee - Editorial
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at 22nd Century Media full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    • Excellent entry-level work to start someone off in journalism, but staying here longer than 1.5 years is pushing it.

    • You do everything, but you're welcomed to focus on areas you're interested in or excel at (village, lifestyle, sports, etc.).

    • Pay is not totally paltry: It's good for those two years you before you move on, and better than a lot of other papers, but don't expect a raise or adjustment for inflation.

    • Even if you have a solid work ethic, it will grow with a company where there's always something to do and downtime doesn't really exist.

    Cons

    • Workload and work/life balance: You know that feeling after you lift weights at the gym and everything seems to feel lighter? After you leave this company, working elsewhere will feel like that. It'll feel weird to consistently have Friday nights and weekends off, as will having a social life. Because 40 pages of newspaper need to be filled with about as many news stories and features – and despite a small network of freelancers – it comes down to the editor and assistant editor (the latter of whom is working for two papers at a time) to make everything happen. That can amount to an obscene amount of work.

    • Low ceiling: You'll likely be hired on as an assistant editor, and the next step up is editor. That's about as far as you go, unless you decide to make this company your career. If that's the case, you might become a cluster manager if you haven't jumped off a bridge yet.

    • Inexperienced management: The highest tiers of management have been with the company near its inception and hardly anywhere else. That amounts to a lot of experience, but not much variety of experience. While they manage the company well enough to function, the rookie tendency to lead through fear rather than respect often becomes apparent.

    • Constructive critique not appreciated: If you have an idea about how something could be done differently or more efficiently, don't expect it to happen. You'll be humored, but little will happen. While there's some room for creativity with actual content, the company follows a format for all of its newspapers – down to its most basic operations. Not a bad thing in concept, but some gears really need grease.

    • CEO: Jack is pretty much hands-off and has especially been so since he turned the company over to its three leading employees, which is admirable, but when he gets a wild hair, his politics and borderline conspiracy theories might put you (as a journalist) on a wild goose chase into ethical gray zones.

    Advice to Management

    • Invest in a creating a true company culture: Your employees will be more loyal and respect you more for it.

    • Invest in professional development: No one's too good to learn how to improve or too old to learn a new trick. Shell out some cash to bring in speakers or send employees to conferences where you and they can learn new skills to bring back to the company.

    22nd Century Media Response

    Feb 7, 2017

    Thank you for the feedback; though, I believe some of your critiques are outdated. Initiatives — such as flexible hours and less weekend work — have been implemented in an effort to ease the burden ... More


  3. Helpful (4)

    "Overworked, underpaid, undeappreciated"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Editor in Northbrook, IL
    Former Employee - Editor in Northbrook, IL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at 22nd Century Media full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    You gain experience writing about a wide range of topics and have the ability to move quickly from an entry-level Assistant Editor position to a more-senior "Editor" position.

    Cons

    Unfortunately, the reason you move up quickly from Assistant Editor to Editor is that, more than likely, you'll see at least two people quit within your first six months. And that's because the list of Cons here is expansive:

    - Awful work hours. The concept of work/life balance is completely non-existent. Because there are only two people (an editor and an assistant editor, who is split with at least one other newspaper) responsible for creating each individual newspaper, the amount of work that is required to publish the paper each week is overwhelming, and requires most editors to work 50+ hours per week. That includes weekends. Though you don't have to be in the office on the weekend, necessarily, you are expected to work from home.

    - The pay is awful. Despite the fact that the North Shore of Chicago is one of the most expensive places to live in the country, salaries are woefully low. As a result, it's impossible to live anywhere near the office - meaning that an hour+ commute is all but mandatory. Not to mention the fact that the benefits are terrible - They offer a 401k with no match, the bonuses are tiny and have previously been cut because the company wasn't doing well financially, the health insurance is bad, you receive only 12 PTO days your first three years and no sick days.

    - The company is only interested in expansion. There's a reason the company has expanded from just one newspaper in 2005 to more than 15 in only 11 years; it's because instead of rewarding the employees who worked hard to make the expansion happen with better salaries, bonuses, benefits - all the money the company makes is put back into further expanding the company. Which simply leads to piling more work on an already over-worked staff (rather than hiring additional employees).

    - They're cheap: You work on slow, old desktop computers (A clever way of keeping employees tied to the office and incapable of working remotely). Their "morale-boosting" events usually include such luxurious expenses as pot-lucks that employees must supply the food for. They won't spring for simple expenses that will help you do your job - like access to court records to cover local court cases, or a TV in the office that could be tuned to a news channel, or a police scanner to keep abreast of what's happening in the community. Whenever something breaks in the office, the company is only interested in the cheap, quick fix.
    Also, they outsource their newspaper layout and design to India as a cost-saver, which makes the actual process of laying out the paper even that much more difficult.

    - The owner dictates content. This is huge. Former Senate candidate Jack Ryan owns 22nd Century Media and likes to dictate content. So, despite the fact that 22nd Century Media's official stance is that it doesn't endorse candidates or take sides in elections, Jack Ryan wrote anonymous editorials that were mandated to be run in every newspaper, endorsing candidates like Bruce Rauner and Bob Dold on behalf of the newspaper, despite the fact that the editor of the paper had in no way written, touched or otherwise approved of said editorials.

    - Employees are viewed as entirely replaceable. It's the reason - along with everything listed above - why turnover is so high. The company doesn't value its employees. It expects employees to give the company everything they have, but the company gives nothing in return. Their feeling is, more or less, "you should feel lucky to have a job," rather than "we're lucky to have you." It's evident in the way they treat their employees, and evident in the way that employees flee the company as soon as they get the chance.

    Put simply: unless you are desperate and have no other options, don't work here. Go work at Starbucks. You'll have better hours and make about the same amount of money. You'll probably have better benefits, too.

    Advice to Management

    Treat your employees like you value them and want them to stay, and they will. Continue to treat them like replaceable cogs, they'll continue to leave.

    22nd Century Media Response

    May 10, 2016

    While we take all criticism seriously, many of the purported facts in this review are inaccurate, while other assertions are misleading. We encourage potential employees to ask management any and all ... More


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  5. Helpful (4)

    "ridiculousness"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Editor in Northbrook, IL
    Former Employee - Editor in Northbrook, IL
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at 22nd Century Media full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - You get an immense opportunity to get tons of experience in local journalism and the opportunity, for the most part, to cover the topics you want to cover (sports, life & arts or news).
    - You get an immense opportunity to build your portfolio and gain experience in writing for and planning news print.
    - Once a year, there is a holiday party and then a small summer BBQ.

    Cons

    - No. 1 CON: There is an incredible amount of work to be done and they keep the staff very, very minimal and very lean, and the pay is very, very low considering the amount of work that needs to be done as well as the need to work nights and sometimes weekends.
    - There's very little appreciation from management towards the staff, and they expect a lot.
    - Employees ONLY get 10 vacation/sick days - combined.
    - Standards are minimal - many grammar and AP mistakes get printed all the time because the young staff needs more copyediting experience.

    Advice to Management

    Care more about your employees.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Small paper; blind managing editor"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Doing good in the community. A joy be a journalist in small communities

    Cons

    This workplace is 20something oriented. If you are older than that don't bother expecting to get hired and stay there. Favoritism abounds. Pay per article is low;they pay you when they get to it. HUGE turnover in editors and assist eds.

    Advice to Management

    Remember your audience is made up of more people than just 0-25. Make sure you have staff to handle that


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Assistant editor at 22CM"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Fun environment, serious about quality news production.

    Cons

    The only complaint is that the company is understaffed so sometimes struggles to find freelance writers and photographers.

    Advice to Management

    Management is great. Because everyone is so busy it's hard for them to give adequate feedback sometimes, but that's my only complaint.


  8. Helpful (5)

    "Looks like Jack is telling his drones to fill this out"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Sales in Orland Park, IL
    Former Employee - Sales in Orland Park, IL
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at 22nd Century Media full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Pros-if you kiss Jack Ryan's behind and are brainless you will do well here. The way they treat the sales staff is despicable and customers are an afterthought.

    Cons

    Cons-they keep messing with your commissions, will tell you one thing and do another, no true HR Department nor a True 401K. The person who called this a dung heap of a company got it right.

    Advice to Management

    Tell the truth to your employees, quit messing with the commissions. Get a 401k, admit you are a pro republican newspaper.


  9. Helpful (6)

    "An awful place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    If you're a young journalist, you can quickly ascend to the rank of editor due to the high turnover. You can also accumulate clips for a future job.

    Cons

    Too many to list them all. The management quarrels amongst itself and does not know how to actually manage because none of them have worked anywhere else. The company as a whole suffers from a complete lack of experience. As for the staff, the hours are long and salary is pitiful.

    Advice to Management

    Be less selfish and self-absorbed. They all know the place is not the best to work, and yet they do nothing about it. If management does not evolve and change and try to improve, why should the staff?


  10. Helpful (1)

    "A Great Working Relationship"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    After working for one of the nation's leading daily newspapers for 40 years, for the past three years, I've worked as a free lance writer for the newspapers in Wilmette, Glenview, Northbrook and Winnetka. The editors of these publications are young, talented and energetic. They are a pleasure to work with. In addition to assigning and editing, they write and take pictures. As a result, they are very appreciative of the problems writers occasionally encounter. In covering sports and news for 22nd Century, I've discovered that the editors are known and respected in their respective communities. They're often out and about the way daily newspapers of yesteryear used to be and I think this connection with readers is a very important factor in the success of the newspapers in these communities.

    Cons

    The compensation is at the lower end of the free lance spectrum.

    Advice to Management

    Don't meddle. Sure, editors will occasionally make mistakes. So do editors at major daily newspapers and they don't have to multi-task. I was amazed to see a posting describe the office as a pig-sty. That person musn't have seen many newspaper offices because it certainly doesn't describe 22nd Century headquarters in Northbrook. Over the years I've been to dozens of newspaper offices and the Northbrook office is one of the neatest I've seen.


  11. Helpful (1)

    "These newspapers care about the community, and the community cares about them."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Editorial
    Former Employee - Editorial

    I worked at 22nd Century Media full-time

    Pros

    22CM newspapers have really made an impact in the communities where they're published. Because these papers cover their respective towns better than any other source, readers look forward to receiving their papers in the mail every week—and they actually read them, which is a rarity in print journalism. The editors care about the towns they cover, and they get to know those towns inside and out, really becoming a part of the community.

    22CM editors have a hand in every aspect of producing the papers, from planning to photography to proofreading. I worked at this company for almost three years, and during that time my skills and confidence developed exponentially.

    Cons

    Because they are responsible for so much, the editors have an extremely heavy workload, which compounds the stress and pressure you'd find at any newspaper job.

    Advice to Management

    If and when possible, hire a couple of extra copy editors or reporters to take on some of the workload.



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