#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Saturday, November 14, 2015

#BuckFiftyADay: Tough All Over

Got a lot off my chest yesterday. Appreciate those who understand. Also appreciate those who told me to suck it up, because it's tough all over. I get that. But understand one thing. I'm not at a point in my life where I can afford to do many of the things suggested, like write a book without an advance, or write a blog for "exposure." I am a professional journalist and will not operate as an amateur. I write for money only (except when I vent here). If I were a kid today who wanted to be a writer, I’d probably write for free too. Back in “my day,” I spent my first 3-4 years post college doing things like taking dictation, making coffee, taking lunch orders. But I had a salary and benefits and confidence it would lead to bigger and better things. Thankfully, it did. For a while.

23 comments:

David Biddix said...

Jeff, I’ve walked in your shoes. I lost my job in 2011 with 4 kids at home. It took a year, but I managed to get a job in a nearby town with a 25% pay cut. I commute 80 miles a day so my kids can finish in the school system where they started. I’ve managed to move back into a web developer job that I enjoy, but there is no more money. Life is tough financially, but I kept hope and believed in myself. I know you can do it. You’re a great writer and you will find something where your skills will be used. Thanks for writing your piece. I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one to have the feelings I did when I was laid off. I can’t help but feel this will result in a positive change for you. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

Jeff Bradley said...

You're the man, David...thanks, brother.

Joel Reese said...

Hey Jeff -- I commented on your post but I'll follow up here: I'm a former (recovering?) journalist myself and had to create a new career, as well. I'd be happy to discuss this and offer any help I can. Contact me if you'd like to talk.

PS said...

Incredibly sobering.

Any reason why you've resisted writing a book? Much like the journalistic world, the writing world has become a shouting match that pays pittance. However, it seems there's more of a chance to hit on something profitable.

Jeff Bradley said...

I need cash flow. If I'm going to write a book, I need an advance. I've pitched a few ideas but nothing that's garnered an advance. Self-publishing a book doesn't interest me.

Maybe when my kids are through college, I sell my house and am retired.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your open, honest article.
This reminds me of the aerospace industry downturn in the 60's and 70's. Many of my friends' dads lost their jobs, never to be replaced. Some started over in other industries; some opened bookstores or other less-well-paid outlets until retirement came around.
It can be very humbling. Remember that your value is not in what you do, but in who you are as a man, a husband and father, a friend and neighbor and one of God's creation.

Victor Rodriguez said...
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Victor Rodriguez said...
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Victor Rodriguez said...

"I am a professional journalist and will not operate as an amateur." I'm sorry Jeff, but this attitude is unacceptable IMHO. Reminds me of professionals I know in third-world countries that say stuff like "I'm a fill in the blank. I refuse to move to the United States to wait tables." As if waiting tables (or anything for that matter) was somehow beneath them. My parents came to this country from Cuba after Castro took power and they did whatever it took and thanks to that I am where I am today as a person and in my career.

I was laid off in 2001 and it took me 11 months to find a job in my field. I waited until my savings were depleted before I started delivering pizza. It it ever happens again, I'm going to Domino's the next day.

You do what you have to do.

Jeff Bradley said...

You missed the point. I will clean your car for money before I will write for free. Totally missed the point. I work in the locker room at a golf club, cleaning toilets, polishing golf shoes... If someone asks me to write, I do it for pay...thanks.

Victor Rodriguez said...

And what if writing for free for a little while opens opportunities to be paid for writing?

Kenn Tomasch said...
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Kenn Tomasch said...

Except it never does. The only opportunity writing for free "for a little while" opens up is the opportunity to write for free for a long while.

Just ask all those pretend journalists who think writin' 'bout sports is so easy, you don't need no fancy degree as long as you can do slideshows and SEO-managed headlines and content. How many of the Bleacher Report and SB Nation hacks have parlayed that "exposure" into anything?

As long as no-talents write for free and the market can't tell the difference, actual reporters have no chance when things go sour.

Teresa Bryan Peneguy said...

Refusing to write for free, or go back up go a career stage you were at 20 years before, is not about being unwilling to do work that is beneath you. The problem is that once you have gone backward *in your professkon,* that is the level you will be at when facing a potential employer.

It sounds nuts, but HR and management cares more about your most recent job than your best job. One can leave McDonald's and grave digging off the resume as irrelevant, but (especially if he has bylines) that part-time job as society writer at the monthly owl will go above the 15 years as city editor of the Chicago Tribune. It's career suicide.

People made all the same suggestions to me and the advice is unanimous among job coaches.

Teresa Bryan Peneguy said...

It won't. For a high school kid maybe. For a seasoned professional it appears like selling out and will end any possibility of being paid again. If be doesn't place a value on his profession, why should anyone else?

Teresa Bryan Peneguy said...

Want that pin.

Teresa Bryan Peneguy said...

Want that pin.

Teresa Bryan Peneguy said...

It won't. For a high school kid maybe. For a seasoned professional it appears like selling out and will end any possibility of being paid again. If be doesn't place a value on his profession, why should anyone else?

Michael Johnson said...
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Michael Johnson said...

Victor, Teresa and Kenn are correct. One of the downfalls of the digital age is that it has devalued mass communications fields. I worked in newspaper journalism and at my last newspaper, its copy desk were largely people who had no journalism background or training. Many of the people did not have a journalism degree (in fact, quite a few had little more than vocational training), Associated Press editing style was not required and there obviously was no professional development. If they had a basic understanding of how to use InDesign and Photoshop, that was fine.

Meanwhile, that same newspaper has a former copy editor from The San Diego Union-Tribune working as a part-time page proofer and requested he drive more than an hour each way for work. Moreover, the work he does could be handled by sending him a PDF remotely for proofing but the company insists he drives in to do it.

That scenario explains what is going on in mass communications fields -- a bizarre world where qualified people can't even get a shot while employers want cheap labor because they don't see the position as important.

Like Kenn eloquently stated, people (including employers) don't perceive the skill and quality in fields such as journalism, mass communications, integrated marketing communications, public relations and publishing anymore. The barrier to what someone like Jeff does has been lowered to the point where anyone can do it. Between the bloggers, the students who are taught useless and inapplicable concepts in college and the belief that "I took an English lit class once" makes that person a journalist or author, there is no differentiation for some people.

Keep in mind, the field is marginalizing people like Jeff. You would think someone in journalism would understand the amount of training and standards of the field, but it's the opposite. Even if Jeff debased himself to work at a tri-weekly shopper, they may turn their noses at him. Many companies would rather hire a hack, inexperienced reporter because they may think 1.) Jeff may want more money and 2.) he is not going to be there long, even if it was not true. So if the field thinks like, what do you think the uninformed general public thinks?

Jeff, I don't know if you have considered this but is teaching a possibility? A lot of secondary and post-secondary schools use some adjunct to full-time instructors and higher education certain could use someone who has practical experience that can apply in a learning environment.

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عبده العمراوى said...

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harada57 said...

thanks


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