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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Is the job market really that good?
Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 4:04 PM on 12.17.13
->> In trying to keep up with trends in the newspaper business it didn't seem to be that long ago that people were getting laid off right and left. However, I have been searching for a managing editor, sports editor and/or a reporter/photographer for going on four months now with very little luck.

And when I say very little luck I mean I've had less than 10 people apply for the position. I originally thought that maybe the pay was too low. So I sent what I was offering to our state press association, and they said we are in the ball park for the size of publication. I even increased the pay for a couple of people that were interested and was turned down. When I told the press association representative what I was offering and what was turned down he was beside himself.

I never imagined I would have this much difficulty finding a writer/photographer when I purchased a newspaper. So my question is this . . . Is the job market that strong again or do we just have people moving on to different professions that were once journalists and not enough young people moving into the field?

Curious as to thoughts and if anyone else is seeing this difficulty.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 5:52 PM on 12.17.13
->> What's the name of your paper and where have you been advertising?

There isn't a single photographer position listed for anywhere in Kansas on NPPA's job bank. Nor is there a listing for any of your ME, sports, and reporter/photog positions on the JournalismJobs site and it goes back for a couple months.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 9:04 PM on 12.17.13
->> I did advertise on journalismjobs.com, workinsports.com, three press association websites and also sent my openings to at least 4-5 universities.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 11:59 PM on 12.17.13
->> Nope, the job market is still awful and the pay is worse now than 20 years ago. Why should a college kid start off working for $20k a year with student loans, rent, insurance, etc. to pay when the money being offered by many papers won't keep your head above water?
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 12:41 AM on 12.18.13
->> I'm wondering why you think the job market is good? Even your own website says you're looking for a "contract" position with varying pay depending on the story.. I don't see any reference to needing a photographer or any other position. And I have to add after looking up the town... part of the problem might be just how small your market must be. With a population of about 3000 it might be tough to draw professionals in the news business with any experience to that area. As it could be tough to even make a fresh faced college grad want to start their career in your market. But as Jeff said, to answer your question...no the job market is terrible.
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David Butler II, Photographer
Somers | CT | USA | Posted: 9:16 AM on 12.18.13
->> Hi Jason,

I wish you well in your search but in your job posting your asking for a single person to be the following...

1) Photographer
2) Writer
3) Multi Media Producer
4) Layout Designer
5) Website Editor
6) Social Media Editor

The person who has all these skills and can actually do them and do them well might be better off starting their own small monthly community paper... You might just be asking for to much from one person... just my thoughts...

Merry Christmas to all!!
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 9:36 AM on 12.18.13
->> See that's what I don't understand. If the job market is "terrible" what would it matter the town size? So it's better to work at Walmart or some other box store or fast food chain in a metro than do what you enjoy doing in a small town? That makes no sense to me, but what do I know.

Yes I know the town size isn't going to be for everyone. I moved from one of the top 10 cities in the nation and I LOVE it. Again that's just me. It's a great place to raise a family and yet its close enough to three larger communities (all college towns) all within 30 min. And we are only 3 hours away from two major metro areas. To me its the best of both worlds.

Chuck thanks for the reminder about our website. I've been meaning to get our ad posted there, but when you have to do just about everything sometimes things slip :-).

David I'm not necessarily asking one person to "be" all of those things, but it would be nice if a person knew enough about those areas they could help out when needed.

And I guess yes it would be nice to have a clone, because right now that person is me.

Jeff I understand your post. However, what I have offered was well over $20,000. And actually when I started at a daily newspaper back in the late 90s I didn't even make enough money to pay all my bills per month. Didn't have cable and the only channel I could get out there was PBS :-). I didn't even make $15,000 a year. My next job was as managing editor of three weekly newspapers and I only made a little over $18,000 at that one.

I'm not sure how many people get into the news business because of the money. I own the joint and I don't make enough money myself for everything that I do, but I would much rather be doing this than a whole lot of other things :-).
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 10:45 AM on 12.18.13
->> Jason, I do understand your difficulties. I have worked in nearly every area of the newsroom in nearly every market with the exception of publisher. The last two jobs I interviewed for and was hired, I asked the interviewer the usual questions about the job itself, but one of the first questions I asked was this:

How's advertising doing?

Because so goes advertising, so goes the rest of the operation. You are probably an exception, but the majority of publishers see editorial employees as a drain on resources, because we generate no revenue. It also equates to lower than usual pay compared to other professionals.

You mentioned the town you live in now is a great place to raise a family. Probably so. Not many college grads are thinking about raising families at this point. They're looking for some action, nightclubs, bars, hangouts, in other words, they want a great social life while being gainfully employed that demonstrates the opportunity for upward mobility while receiving a decent paycheck.

My guess is they don't see those things in Kingman, Ks. I left a small paper in eastern Ga. back in early August. They still have not been able to hire somebody full time to do the job I was doing of writing, covering games, covering news, photography, Photoshop skills and page layout. The town is out in the boonies, the area just isn't that interesting and it's about 71 miles from Atlanta. So you're not alone.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 10:57 AM on 12.18.13
->> Jeff glad to know that I'm not alone! I completely understand that small towns don't offer the most attractive night life. I thought being close enough to three of those areas would work, but it hasn't yet :-).
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Patrick Fallon, Photographer, Assistant
Torrance | California | USA | Posted: 11:39 AM on 12.18.13
->> For what it's worth - there are a few small, papers in fairly rural markets that are able to attract good photo talent. Jason, perhaps getting in touch with Dave at The Herald in Jasper, Indiana and he may be able to share some experiences and insight with you?

https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-herald-jasper-indiana
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:41 AM on 12.18.13
->> Jason...

There may be a plethora of journalists and photographers out of a job looking for work, but each and every one of them must weigh the pros and cons of employment offerings. I just read the job position on your website for a reporter. While the beat description sounds interesting, having this position being contract where the person's pay varies upon the type of assignment is a big red flag. And with it being contract that means the person must handle his/her own employee taxes, health benefits, workers comp, retirement savings, etc. out of his/her own pocket -- another big red flag. Plus, being contract means no steady income -- another red flag -- to pay for steady bills such as rent, gasoline, food, electricity, health insurance, etc.

Now if your paper was part of a large metropolitan area where the person could pick up other contract work then that might work; but that's probably not the case in your small town.

Another factor to consider is self worth. Paying X amount of money for a photographer or reporter or photographer/reporter is one thing. But to tack on all the other job duties like those Butler listed makes that person's worth more valuable and subject to higher pay. And is that something you can afford? It is certainly a consideration that job applicants will be looking at. In today's market the old adage "you get what you pay for" is very true. Unfortunately, many of the media have lowered their quality standards to cut costs which has driven down the industry and its sustainability.

As to current job pay, yes, the industry has been hit hard and devastated in some respects which is another factor you have to consider. Back in the mid-'70s I was paid $50-75 per assignment at a large metropolitan paper when I was in college. For that, the paper got 2-3 B/W images and I maintained ownership of my images. Today that same paper demands at least a dozen color and all rights in all forms for perpetuity including the right to sublicense for $90 per job. That's ridiculous. Yet there are photographers that may accept that. They can't live off that, but it is a means to learn; and they can earn other income in other ways from other clients.

And that brings it back to Kingman. Is what you are paying sustainable? Step aside from owning the paper; total your monthly expenses (rent, insurance, food, retirement, children's college costs, vacations, etc.); total what you would earn based on what you are offering per job; and do the math. Just look at the expenses involved. A reporter can do his/her job with a laptop costing $300-400. That's all he/she needs. But for a photographer to do his/her job that person must invest 30x that. Is your contract pay for a photographer 10x that of what a reporter makes?

In addition to my own work I also teach college photo classes including photojournalism. One of the topics is making good business decisions where the students must analyze the job market and the compensation. An exercise I use is offering them the opportunity to cover a college football game for the amount of money some papers in my area pay. Everyone raises their hand to do the job. But once we do the math on the cost of doing business those hands quickly go down. There are a few who will still do the assignment, but they admit they have a regular job to pay the steady bills and would be going to the game for self enjoyment versus treating it as a job.

I would be happy to discuss your situation further offline. My email address is doug at pizac dot com.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 12:11 PM on 12.18.13
->> Doug I appreciate your response. The contract work you are talking about is geared more toward locals. I would NEVER hire a full-time managing editor or reporter on a contract basis.

Let me restate that I sent my original proposal to my first candidate to our press association and it was well within the norm for our size of publication and I'm willing to guess probably on the higher end. And I even went WELL beyond the first offer to a couple of people and was turned down. I shared that with the press association and they couldn't believe it.

I'm not a greedy business owner. I understand living conditions and am more than willing to pay a fair wage to someone, but just like any business owner I only have so much I can work with to take care of everything and everyone else, including my own family.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 12:13 PM on 12.18.13
->> Nor would I hired a full-time photographer on a contract basis. Need to ad that :-).
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Doug Strickland, Photographer
Chattanooga | TN | USA | Posted: 1:58 PM on 12.18.13
->> Jason,

It is possible that part of the issue may be the size and online presence of your paper. In an era where most of us are scrambling to increase our web capabilities and reach, become fluent in video and multimedia reporting, and get ready for the future, your paper's online capability seems (at a glance, since I can't log in) very small. I'm sure that is because of its size and the fact that it is based in a small town where the online stuff just hasn't become as important as the print product, but if I were looking for my first staff job at a newspaper yours would be very, very unattractive to me. Without the chance to work on video and multimedia, it would be difficult to go from there to a larger daily after a few years (and it is already VERY difficult).
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 2:34 PM on 12.18.13
->> Doug I'm a little taken aback by your comment. We have I would say one of the best websites that would rival any weekly paper when you look at what all we can do now. And I don't even utilize all of its functionality.

Yes we do not do any multimedia reporting, but it's because we don't have the staff to do it not the lack of capability from an equipment stand point. My personal degree is actually in broadcasting, so that is something I would love to be doing, but there are just not enough hours in the day.

We have all the capabilities of doing it. We actually just live webcasted our 20th annual Christmas parade a few days ago. Nothing like that has ever been done here before. We are also going to start live webcasting our city commission meetings at the beginning of the year.

There's nothing technology wise that we are lacking here except that our website is not tablet and phone friendly. And the biggest reason for that is to make it that way it's going to come with a pretty hefty price tag and I simply can not justify that based on our customers wants and desires right now. I'd personally love to make it that way :-).
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 3:36 PM on 12.18.13
->> Jason, you indicated it "was well within the norm for our size of publication and I'm willing to guess probably on the higher end. And I even went WELL beyond the first offer to a couple of people and was turned down. I shared that with the press association and they couldn't believe it."

The issue is, and you already know this, the norm will send a person to the poor house, provided you're not with a spouse who is employed or you're living with your parents.

I'm being paid $1,500 less per year right now than I was in 1998. In that year, gasoline was $1.09-$1.13 a gallon. My rent for a 1 bedroom was $225 a month. My employer was providing all my gear, darkroom supplies, film, new Mac G3 computer and Nikon Coolscan film scanner.

In 2013, I'm providing all my own gear, I paid $3.14 a gallon when I filled up on Tuesday and rent is 3 1/2 times what I was paying $15 years ago.

So, not only does it boil down to location, location, location, but the strain of financing what an employer should be helping out with has also put a lot of people on a frail limb in terms of financial vulnerability.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 4:06 PM on 12.18.13
->> Jeff again I guess that's what I don't get. You said you have had to go backwards (I really hate that - I truly do), I'm paying MORE - FAR MORE than what I started out with in 1996 and offered someone nearly twice what I was making to be the managing editor of three papers and they were only going to have one.

As a photographer myself all the equipment is here so no one is going to have come in and provide their own gear or purchase anything.

I can't speak for all the owners, but the picture isn't just tons better for us than it is for our team members. Actually one of mine got to take a cruise this fall. I haven't been on an actual vacation since my honeymoon back in '97 and that was paid for as a wedding present :-).

Trust me I completely understand the financial vulnerabilities without spilling my life story on the message board.
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Doug Strickland, Photographer
Chattanooga | TN | USA | Posted: 5:18 PM on 12.18.13
->> I didn't mean to offend, Jason, and if I did I apologize. I was just offering my opinion as someone who, just a few years ago, was in the same boat as others who might be applying to work at your paper. Looking at a paper and seeing little opportunity to grow as a diverse visual journalist isn't very attractive to recent graduates, who are the most likely candidates to apply at a small paper in a town of 3,000.

I would also recommend posting your job listing on NPPA's job bank if you haven't already.
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 5:59 PM on 12.18.13
->> Jason,
if you are still looking please send me all the details plus salary and if benefits are included and I will put the word out. I run a photo group and MANY of the people are looking for f/t work. I told a lot of the younger people that they will have to move some place (most likely a small town) and they were totally open to relocating.

DLR
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 8:30 AM on 12.19.13
->> Thank Doug! And I will get the info to you Debra. Thank you.
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Amy Wallot, Photographer
Lexington | KY | USA | Posted: 9:57 AM on 12.19.13
->> Jason,

Have you asked the folks who turned down your offer why they did? What did they say?

Also, you mentioned a couple of times how when you first started out, you were barely making it. You seem ok with that. Not everybody is. I know many of us started at jobs that paid horrible, in boring towns, at lousy papers... with the plans of staying a year or two and then moving on. But now there are not many places to move on to. I think younger journalists realize they need to land at a place they may have to stay for a while, so they better like it.

Your newspaper website photo galleries appear to have EVERY photo taken at the event in the gallery. As a photographer this appears to me that the paper doesn't take photography very seriously. This is something I would STRONGLY consider if I was applying for a job.

Good luck in your search.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 11:30 AM on 12.19.13
->> The days of running a help wanted ad and getting a line of people applying for jobs is over.

Is the job market that good? Yes.. and no.

As you have discovered John, it's just not as easy as it once was. The unemployment rate is down to 7% and headed down further. Where I live, which is much like where you live, jobs for welders of Polaris are open and if you're qualified you'll get hired immediately after passing the screening. A friend of mine in a similar sized area in Nebraska tells me that skilled labor individuals are in high demand. If you have knowledge on how to work on power lines, you can get hired immediately as well. That kind of position can earn a qualified individual $80K a year if my son told me correctly.

I have a job opening in my other business that I am going to have to build the individual because the skill set isn't here.

Why so much unemployment still? There are several reasons in my opinion. I'll give you the brief overview:

1) Unemployment compensation: For some, it's a wash between working and drawing unemployment. This is starting to run out.

2) Low Wages: The mentality has been to keep wages low for a while. Related to #1, but what you will see is a increase to draw people away from other positions. Expect wages to rise - it will happen.

3) Specialized skill sets: There was a article in the WSJ a few weeks ago that argued the value of a college degree that wasn't as specialized because by the time the student graduates, the demand for his or her position is no longer there. In this economy, the demand for specialization has created a moving target for employment. In the case of a journalist or photojournalist, many of those that got downsized moved into other sectors of the economy.

4)Need to increase educational programs for advanced mechanical skills. In Europe you can get a Masters degree in business. You can also get one in auto mechanics - it's been that way for over 50 years. Plumbers and electricians are busy - very busy. There hasn't been enough emphasis over the last 40 years to those who work with their hands (although that's changed the last 15 years or so) and it's caught up with us.

5) Lack of training. Some people do not have much more than a HS degree, and have track records of employment that make them unusable in other than base positions like Wal-Mart and McDonalds. Part of that 7% is made up of these folks.

In your case, some of the other responses are spot on accurate. The economy is revving up. I seen signs of it and so do others in larger markets.

The bottom line is that there are worthwhile candidates out there but you're going to have to work hard to attract them because the competition is stiff. That's why the language in your offer may be part of the problem as was posted in a earlier post. Your offer has to stand out. You need to sell the value of living where you live as well. Is it a great place to raise a family? High quality of life? Then you need to sell that, and don't forget to address the needs of the one person who can kill the deal quicker than anyone - the candidate's spouse ( who is typically the wife). If you bring someone in, you had better address things that are important to them. You can offer than a lot of money, but if the spouse doesn't like the area - you are a dead man - it won't happen.

Hope this helps.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 11:35 AM on 12.19.13
->> Sorry, I should have said Jason :P
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 2:25 AM on 12.20.13
->> The decrease in the unemployment rate might speed the demise of newspapers that are on the edge. They're going to be caught between a rising labor market and the inability to increase advertising rates at the same time. The next year is going to be scary for newspapers with skinny profit margins and minimal cash-on-hand.

--Mark
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 11:13 AM on 12.24.13
->> Amy I am a former event photographer so to say that we don't take photography seriously simply because we put "every" photo of an event in our gallery to "purchase" is silly.

Because we give people an opportunity to select from numerous photos in no way shows how serious or not we take photography. I'm not sure how you could draw that conclusion. If the gallery was a non-purchasing gallery then yes that might be an option.

But after spending a decade making my living from event photography you have to give people more options not less or you aren't going to make enough money to live. That may not be the case everywhere, but that has been my overwhelming experience.

What gave you the idea that I was "okay" with barely making it. Again silly. It was HORRIBLE. One of the worst experiences I have had. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do to survive. And I would have rather done that than flip burgers.
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Jason Jump, Photographer
Kingman | KS | USA | Posted: 11:16 AM on 12.24.13
->> "The days of running a help wanted ad and getting a line of people applying for jobs is over."

This seems to be pretty accurate as far as I can see in my limited experience searching for a new team member.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 4:25 PM on 12.24.13
->> Remember seeing a few articles about businesses being more selective with hiring, i.e. waiting for the best candidate because with the economy the way it has been for the last few years they have current employees doing a lot more work for no extra compensation so the rush to bring someone in is just not there yet as they milk every last drop out of that setup. Almost every one of these also mentioned job applicants are doing the same because there's other options (moving back home after college for example) so those qualified are being pickier, you can't really blame them. Going to see an upswing even more so here soon so competition is tough, have to really stick out on both sides.

As for the gallery comments, this is something I'm noticing with a lot of newspapers as I cover a state event here for the company who has the exclusive and the papers are no longer just running 10-15 images from the game, they're doing that with the article and having hundreds for sale in a gallery. This is something I'd also look at, looking at the ones posted on the site hate seeing the ones that should be culled out (oof, backs, blocked shots, etc), would not personally want to do things that way, post it all like that. Do a bunch of events and will offer galleries hundreds of images, however cull that all out.
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Ron Erdrich, Photographer
Abilene | TX | USA | Posted: 6:58 PM on 12.26.13
->> I second the idea of contacting the Jasper Herald. I think you could really start something. Call them up and listen to their advice.

My internship out of college was at the Hays Daily News in western Kansas because I wanted to work with Charlie Riedel, a great photographer whose paper was known for good photo play. I didn't care that Hays was four hours from anything, the skill set I hoped to gain made up for that.

The Herald has the same appeal, every year or two there is an opening there, someone moves on and they look for another person to take their place. It's built a reputation for visual storytelling and as a launching pad.

And that might be where you're falling short, in marketing. Perhaps your message of what an applicant can expect could be clearer or more direct?

Position yourself not as a place to come home to, but as a launching pad. I've always thought that line from New York, New York ("If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere") had nothing on working in rural areas. If you can make it there, you really can make it anywhere.

I had an ethnic anthropology teacher tell me about how he used to start his research projects 30 miles from where he wanted to actually do his work. This way, he reasoned, he could get all his mistakes out by working in a similar-enough locale without tainting the actual work he wanted to do.

Starting at a small paper works off the same principal. Emphasize that you're providing an environment to learn and grow as journalists in a staff position. Those serious about their future careers will take notice.
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