By Zach Hagadone
One of the best parts of being a journalist — especially being a journalist for a really long time — is that you end up talking to a lot of classes. I’ve been grateful to be invited to speak to journalism students at high schools and universities from Sandpoint to Boise, and the inevitable question always arises: “How did you get into the newspaper business?”
My stock answer is usually pretty windy, but the short form is that sometime in the early-spring of 1999, when I was a senior at Sandpoint High School, I left my job at Serv-a-Burger, marched into the Daily Bee offices and asked then-Editor Kary Miller for a job. She and then-Publisher David Keyes agreed to hire me as a copyeditor, reporting to work after school and proofreading the paper until it went to press in the evening.
That was it. I returned to the Bee during winter, spring and summer breaks during my first year at college and, over that time, they let me draw editorial cartoons and even take on a little light writing — some profiles of my former high-school classmates, filler content in various special publications and even some sports (including turning T-ball scores into narrative capsules).
Three years later, college degree in hand, I was working at the Boise bureau of the Associated Press in the basement of the Idaho Capitol. A year or so later, in December 2004, Vol. 1 No. 1 of the Sandpoint Reader rolled off the presses.
I tell this story to students, many of whom end up hoping that they can follow a similar trajectory, but I’m always quick to tell them that it doesn’t normally work that way. I had no resume and no real experience, other than co-founding my sixth-grade class newspaper, The Sagle Chronicle, and a one-year stint doing layout and editorial cartooning at the Cedar Post in high school.
These days, it’s highly unlikely that anyone is landing an awesome reporting gig simply by walking up to the editor’s desk and asking for one. However, that’s exactly what might happen here at the Reader. You see, we’re in the active hunt to bring on a new reporter, effective as soon as possible.
Publisher Ben Olson referred to this in his “Dear Readers” note in the May 18 paper, but I’m repeating it here in the hopes that there’s some intelligent, eager, creative, current, former or would-be journalist out there who wants to join our little clubhouse in Suite 9 of the Farmin Building on Cedar Street.
We’re looking for someone who’s able to commit to a part-time position — up to about 30 hours per week — with the potential to go full-time, depending on how things go. We’re open to negotiating pay, but duties would be pretty open-ended.
Being such a small shop, our in-house staff has to do a little of everything: in any given edition, you may see your byline on a news report, an artist profile, a food review and/or write-up on a local band. You could end up filing public records requests, taking photos of a Fourth of July parade or sitting in on a local government meeting.
We have a flexible office policy — working from home is never a problem, as long as the work is getting done, because no matter what: You can’t hide from the Wednesday deadline.
An ideal candidate will be a self-starter who is curious and engaged not only with the process of reporting, but keenly interested in the subjects about which they’d be reporting. We’re collaborative and supportive of one another at the Reader, and take our mission as a reliable, insightful, provocative and community-minded media source very seriously (even if we’re not always so serious around the office. For real, the ideal candidate will have both a sense of humor and the ability to withstand some pretty salty banter).
While this is an entry-level position, it is not unskilled nor an internship-type deal. We’re looking for someone who has at the very minimum some experience with non-fiction writing for publication and a basic familiarity with the tenets and structures of journalism. We’re more than happy to provide some training and guidance, but our preferred coworker will come to us with enough basic newspaper know-how to hit the ground if not running, then at least walking at a brisk pace.
While we have you ...
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