Thursday, November 30, 2006

This Ad's Left Wanting

The ever-resourceful Craig Smith has turned up something I can't let pass without a comment--the News-Press is advertising for a reporter to cover the City Hall beat. (As an aside--how early does Craig get up and blog? and he breaks news, too, while I'm happy trolling through stuff to find places to insert snark. No wonder he gets a feature in Coastal Woman--see page 47 of this PDF.)

Here's the ad from

The Santa Barbara News-Press is looking for a reporter who is fearless when it comes to covering city hall, someone ready to turn up the heat and watch 'em squirm. Don't bother responding unless you're ready to dig in, dig up and dig around this town's ivory tower. An investigative bent would be nice, and you better be ready to produce: The last person to hold this position could turn out five bylined stories a week. If hard work and a front page begging for unbiased, hard-hitting journalism - the way it's meant to be - suits you, send a resume and three clips to

Somehow the ad leaves out other important qualifications: Must look good in black and white, and we don't mean print, we mean B&W film; we're thinking Rosalind Russell in that jaunty striped hat. Or, if you're a man, you can wear a fedora with a slip of paper that says "Press" jammed in the hatband.

Seriously, what the ad leaves out you learn really quickly if you look at other ads on this job site. Do you need experience? No. Do you need a degree? No. But atttitude, we want lots of attitude. Because that's what journalism is about.

Is a journalist's job to make people "squirm"? I would assume a truly objective reporter doesn't walk into a City Hall beat thinking, "All politicians are crooks. I can't want to expose them all." Approaching a story without prejudice and letting the facts speak for themselves would be more like objectivity.

Of course the ad also doesn't mention anything about the writer having any writerly skills--all you have to have for this job is moxie and a desire to be on the front page. You have to love the line: "The last person to hold this position could turn out five bylined stories a week." Wouldn't any sane candidate wonder: "What happened to that last person? If he or she worked so hard, why did you get rid of such productivity? Or did the reporter choose to leave? Oh, and will I be asked to write some un-bylined stories, too? What are those for? Is it OK if I turn out 5 stories a week but they're crap (I hear the N-P has a fondness for stories about fires that are only fire drills)?"

Good luck, News-Press, finding someone "fearless" enough to face down the fire-breathing Marty Blum Monster. At least the new hire won't have to kill off objectivity at the paper, as you've managed to cold-cock that sucker all on your own.


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