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Several readers sent me the Wells Inn’s ad for a reporter “able to interview folks without pissing them off, cover events and get the information right!” The INNformer position, according to the ad, “is great for someone who is looking to get back in the game after being ‘downsized,’ needs a change of pace or simply wants to hide from their ex or other people they have pissed off.”

Wells Inn owner Charles Winslow tells Romenesko readers he took this approach because “I am not sure that a ‘straight’ ad would reach the right type of person. We are, after all, in West Virginia.” He adds that “despite my quirky ad, I do take it seriously.”

I am losing my editor, who writes most of my business stories. He was just offered an editorship at a daily.inn Very happy for him. His last journalism job before us ended in 2009. I have another editor already on staff, who has been in the business for close to 40 years. Now I need someone to write business and politics.

I am proud of [the paper]. It has been well received in the community and has progressed much better than I had any reason to hope or expect. … I have been able to provide jobs to a couple unemployed journalists and help them get “back in the game.” Can that be bad?

How many applications so far from people willing to move to West Virginia? “I have six in less than 24 hours. Three experienced and three flipping burgers with their journalism degrees.”

* Long hours and bad pay for a reporter position (journalismjobs.com)
* Front page of the October 10 issue of The INNformer (Google Drive)

Dean Olsen is the health-care reporter at GateHouse Media’s State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill. The 54-year-old journalist, who hasn’t had a raise in seven years, works at McDonald’s part-time to support his family.

“I work there almost every Saturday and Sunday, seven to nine hours a day. I rarely have a day off. I haven’t been able to do much around the house [because of the work schedules]. My lawn hasn’t been cut in a month.”
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Olsen was hired by McDonald’s in May after he job-hunted for six months and applied at dozens of places.

“I know it’s ironic” that a health-care reporter is working at a fast-food restaurant, he tells me, “but I need to support my family and I’ll do whatever it takes.”

He has three kids, including a special-needs child who is home-schooled by his wife.

“Our situation is a little unique because we are not a two-income family. My wife’s priority needs to be with our son.”

Olsen is also chairman of the Springfield unit of the United Media Guild, and is trying to get GateHouse to start giving raises. It’s not looking good, though.

“We know the company has money, but raises just aren’t in their plan.”

Still, the newsroom union is urging get GateHouse to at least match salaries paid at the Peoria Journal Star, another GateHouse paper. For that to happen, younger journalists would have to get double-digit pay increases.

“Our focus is on the younger people because we’ve seen them become disillusioned and leave” because of the low salaries.

The union is proposing no raises for veteran reporters in the first year of the contract, then 3% for the second and third years. The current salary range is $26,000 to about $65,000.

Olsen makes over $60,000, but his family is still struggling. (His take-home pay at McDonald’s is $230 every two weeks.)

Dean Olsen

Dean Olsen

“We had a hard time paying our property taxes,” he says, “and I hope we can keep our home.”

Bruce Rushton, an Illinois Times reporter who worked at the State Journal-Register with Olsen for five years, describes the journalist as “a hard-working, careful and experienced reporter” who “did not take a job at McDonald’s for anything other than economic necessity. This is not a publicity stunt pulled to generate sympathy for himself” or colleagues who have gone without raises for years.”

How long does Olsen figure he’ll be working at McDonald’s?

“I really don’t know,” he says. “It’s quite an experience, and you don’t realize how hard those people work and the abuse they put up with from the public.”

Olsen’s job is working the front counter and sometimes taking drive-thru orders.

“I’ve had sources come up to the drive-thru and they’re quite surprised to see me. Some think I’m working on an investigative project.”

It’s nothing like that, he assures them.

* State Journal-Register medical reporter also works at McDonald’s (illinoistimes.com)


The journalists at Gannett’s Montgomery (AL) Advertiser were interviewed for new positions last week and are waiting to hear if they can continue to work at the paper. (They know that some staffers will be let go.)
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“Here is the real kicker,” an Advertiser employee tells Romenesko readers. “We just had three straight days of meetings – you had to attend one (roughly 15 minutes) – to hear about the United Way. Our publisher strongly encouraged us to donate money, using the guidelines of 1% of salary if salaried or 1 hour per pay period if hourly, to the charity.”

Employees were told they had to fill out a United Way donation form – even if they aren’t giving money. “Nobody’s upset about being charitable, but we’re less than a week removed from interviewing for our jobs and some from the newsroom are going to be fired … and we’re having a required meeting in which we’re encouraged to donate money.

“Several employees noted the incredible irony of the timing of this.”

Same situation in your newsroom? Let me know.

Update: Read the comments about this from my Facebook friends and subscribers.

* New York Times reporter Richard Perez-Pena says he’ll be “stunned” if even 100 colleagues apply for buyouts. (capitalnewyork.com)
* Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg wishes Dave McKinney had just gone back to work “instead of pouring gasoline over himself, and the paper, and striking a match.” (everygoddamnday.com)
* University of California, Santa Barbara newspaper apologizes for a satirical piece about an ISIS invasion. (collegemediamatters.com)globe
* Today’s front pages from newspapers in Canada. (kiosko.net) | “I think we can go ahead and give the 2014 National Newspaper Award for editorial cartoons to @ch_cartoon [Bruce MacKinnon].” (@sladurantaye)
* “Gawker is rarely perfect, but it strives to be honest and fearless,” writes editor Max Read. (gawker.com)
* New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says he’ll reject an anti-gay group’s honorarium. (mediamatter.org)
* The Ben Bradlee obits critiqued. (philly.com) | Tributes from Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. (thebiglead.com)
* Billy Penn launches in Philadelphia. “We will link to other sites, not over-aggregate,” it says. (billypenn.com)
* Dr. Nancy Snyderman returns to NBC News in November. (cnn.com)
* JOBS: Las Vegas Weekly is looking for an editor. (Romenesko Jobs)
* Gannett’s Detroit Free Press finally puts out its newsroom changes memo. (crainsdetroit.com) | Gannett’s Tennessean has an “ideation room.” (nashvillescene.com)
* I’d definitely follow: “A Twitter account that might very well be managed by a Boston terrier with an astigmatism.” (browardpalmbeach.com)
* Alt-weekly East Bay Express says “our publication is currently healthier than it has been for more than a decade.”(altweeklies.com)
* Yes, I remember “the Netflix for magazines.” In fact, I subscribe and like it a lot. (digiday.com)
* Didn’t get the BuzzFeed San Francisco bureau chief job? A.J. Daulerio‘s Ratter might have a position for you. (ratter.com)
* A Quora question – “If every state of the USA declared war against each other, which would win?” – interests Hollywood. (pando.com)
* Not just front pages on display: The Newseum is Washington’s favorite red-carpet venue. (washingtonpost.com)
* The iPod turns 13. (time.com)
* Send anonymous news tips, link suggestions, memos, reports of comment spam, and typo alerts to jim@jimromenesko.com | Romenesko on Facebook | Romenesko on Twitter
* Advertise your job opening for just $25 a week. Contact Tom Kwas at jimromads@yahoo.com for information. (He’ll take care of your Sponsored Post or display ad, too.)

From a Washington Post “On Leadership” blog post:

Mary Hadar, former editor of The Post’s Style section, held on to a reply that Bradlee sent more than two decades ago to a pestering flack. As Hadar recalls, someone was retiring from the circus — a lion tamer? — and the circus’s press agent wrote to Bradlee to complain when the Style section wouldn’t run a profile.

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* A classic Ben Bradlee letter to ‘flacks’ (washingtonpost.com) | “We should do this more often” (@AnupKaphle)
* Katharine, not Katherine: “Memo from Ben Bradlee that made my day” (@migold)
* Jack Shafer: Bradlee was all the things his obituarists and essayists claim today” (reuters.com)
* During a job interview, Bradlee asked Peter Baker if he was a Moonie (nytimes.com)
* David Folkenflik: “Major regional newspapers mimicked the format he devised for the Post” (wbur.org)
* “By today’s standards, Ben was a lousy manager but a great leader” (washingtonpost.com)
* Bradlee’s WaPo obit was “a labor of love” that Robert Kaiser started working on 15 years ago (@RobertGKaiser)


From Dave McKinney’s letter to Sun-Times owner Michael Ferro:

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daveThe former Sun-Times reporter (at right) says in his letter that “I was told to go on leave [after the Republican gubernatorial candidate's campaign questioned his ethics], a kind of house arrest that lasted almost a week. It was pure hell. [Editor Jim] Kirk told me that his bosses were considering taking me away permanently from the political and Springfield beats. He offered up other potential jobs at the paper, all of which I considered demotions. Because of my unexplained absence from my beat, colleagues started calling, asking if I had been suspended. Or fired.”

McKinney worked at the Sun-Times for 19 years.

* Why I left the Sun-Times (Dave McKinney)
* McKinney’s big news crashed the Capitol Fax site (chicagomag.com)
* Sun-Times editor says the owners “have never quashed a story” (chicagobusiness.com)

Earlier:
* McKinney pulled off political beat after Rauner camp complains (chicagobusiness.com)
* GOPer tried to retaliate against reporter over negative story (talkingpointsmemo.com)
* Sun-Times owner’s wife gave money to Rauner’s campaign (republicannewswatch.com)

- From The Watch, Telluride, CO

– From The Watch, Telluride, CO

A ROMENESKO READER writes: As campaign season heats up and more and more people are trying to get their letters to the editor published, one local paper [The Watch in Telluride, Colorado] has started charging people to get their letters published. [$25 for first 250 words, then $10 for each additional 250 words.] If you don’t pay, your letter will be published at the discretion of the editor – after all the paid letters, of course.

To me this seems ridiculous. Obviously there are times when not all letters will fit, particularly in election season, but having people pay for priority DOES NOT seem like the right way to address this. Thoughts?

Post them in comments or send me an email and I’ll post for you if you’re not on Facebook.

Update – The Watch editor Gus Jarvis tells Romenesko readers:

We only do paid letters in the month or so leading up to the regular November election and the main reason we do this is because of our limited space in print. We cover a region of three counties, each with various races and ballot issues within them.

A few years ago, we simply ran out of space to handle all of our letters. So now, we charge a very modest fee for those who really want their letter to be published and with that fee we are able to open more spacep/add more pages to publish them.

I wouldn’t say it’s a good way to monetize our operation, but rather a way to deal with a huge influx of election letters we receive at one time. After the election, we will go back to our normal policy of publishing letters at no fee.

* PDF edition of The Telluride (CO) Watch

The Daily Northwestern aims to collect $1 million from 500 donors in its first-ever fundraising effort. north The paper says the money will be used to replenish reserves, provide scholarships and do technology upgrades. Sports journalists and Daily alums Christine Brennan and Michael Wilbon are campaign co-chairs. (Watch video appeals from Brennan and Wilbon.)

Campaign spokesman and former Daily editor Jeremy Mullman writes:

With a history going back to 1881 as the only daily news source for both NU and the city of Evanston, The Daily is generally regarded as one of America’s best campus papers. The history of excellence has continued despite a tough climate for campus papers, as The Daily has won seven Pacemakers (the top award in campus journalism) in the last 10 years.

The press release is after the jump. Read More

* McClatchy’s Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer pull out of a debate they sponsoredchair over an empty chair on the set. “We wanted to have a serious discussion … about the issues without any gimmicks,” says N&O’s editor.
(newsobserver.com)
* New York Times columnist Ross Douthat speaks at an anti-gay group’s Texas fundraiser. (towleroad.com)
* Over 300 at the New York Times have asked to take a look at the buyout offer, according to the Guild. (nypost.com)
* What journalists worry about at night. (“I worry that there won’t be jobs for people over 50.”) (ajr.org)
* Medill junior Lucas Matney blasts news outlets for “just feeding the public whatever it desires.” (dailynorthwestern.com)
* Wonder why: “More than a dozen other current [Thought Catalog] employees contacted for this story either declined to comment or didn’t respond. The site’s co-publisher, Gorrell, also didn’t respond to requests for comment.” (washingtonpost.com)
* Phillip Alder‘s bridge column in the New York Times is safe – at least for now. (observer.com)
* Business Insider veteran Joseph Weisenthal joins Bloomberg to host a TV show and develop a markets website. (cnn.com)
* Charles Apple leaves the struggling OC Register to become managing editor for visuals at the Victoria (TX) Advocate. (facebook.com)
* “The Walking Dead” star Steven Yeun‘s morning habit is lurking on Reddit. (adweek.com)
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