Daily Archives: October 23, 2014


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 (
* 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.”

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

“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.

Update: I invited State Journal-Register publisher Clarissa Williams to comment on Friday. She sent this statement on Monday afternoon: “We are conducting negotiations in a positive and straightforward manner in good faith. Our intention is to look out for all 141 employees’ best interest. I’ll continue to operate the State Journal-Register with the best interests of our readers, advertisers and employees top of mind.”

* State Journal-Register medical reporter also works at McDonald’s (
* Update: Comments from my Facebook friends and subscribers (

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.)
“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. (
* 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.” (
* University of California, Santa Barbara newspaper apologizes for a satirical piece about an ISIS invasion. (
* Today’s front pages from newspapers in Canada. ( | “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. (
* New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says he’ll reject an anti-gay group’s honorarium. (
* The Ben Bradlee obits critiqued. ( | Tributes from Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. (
* Billy Penn launches in Philadelphia. “We will link to other sites, not over-aggregate,” it says. (
* Dr. Nancy Snyderman returns to NBC News in November. (
* Gannett’s Detroit Free Press finally puts out its newsroom changes memo. ( | Gannett’s Tennessean has an “ideation room.” (
* I’d definitely follow: “A Twitter account that might very well be managed by a Boston terrier with an astigmatism.” (
* Alt-weekly East Bay Express says “our publication is currently healthier than it has been for more than a decade.”(
* Yes, I remember “the Netflix for magazines.” In fact, I subscribe and like it a lot. (
* Didn’t get the BuzzFeed San Francisco bureau chief job? A.J. Daulerio‘s Ratter might have a position for you. (
* A Quora question – “If every state of the USA declared war against each other, which would win?” – interests Hollywood. (
* Not just front pages on display: The Newseum is Washington’s favorite red-carpet venue. (
* The iPod turns 13. (