Trial by, no for, media
November 1, 2006 1:19 AM   Subscribe

Help me nail my one week trial at a regional metro daily newspaper. Quite a bit

Thanks in no small part to the excellent advice received on AskMe, I’m heading off to tryout for this job next week.

So… in much the same sprit as the original question, but moving along from the interview to the nuts and bolts of a week in the job…:

a) What I should be doing during the trial?
b) What I should no-way do (and thanks, as noted in the earlier question, I won’t try and sleep with the editor or tell anyone how many awards I’m planning to win).
c) What have your experiences with newspaper trials been like? Is there anything you wish you’d known before you went in?
d) Is there anything else I should do to prepare?
e) Is this total overkill?

So far, I’ve:

1) Phoned every contact I have who has even the remotest connection with the town I’m going to, with the aim of having three solid stories to pitch at conference each morning. (Five mornings = 15 stories.)

2) Picked the brains of a couple of jouros at the paper where I do casual weekend shifts now.

3) Cultivated some new contacts in the area (lining up coffee / drinks chats over the next week while I’m in town).

4) Got me maps of the town and region.

5) Made a list of local, state and federal govt members for the area.

6) Made a list of emergency service contacts in the region (police, fire, ambulance, rescue etc).

7)Read the paper and checked out local radio news from the town and surrounding area every day.

8) Made a list of questions about the paper and the town so I can, hopefully, show I’m curious and interested.

Again, I'm more concerned with the jouralism side of things than the general job stuff - it isn't my first job and I'm far from straight out of school. Having said that, any and all suggestions gratefully received.

(I'm trying to allay a super-bad case of pre-trial jitters by keeping occupied getting super prepared.)
posted by t0astie to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you lined up a meetup in the city as a celebration and as a very good way to develop even more local contacts?

posted by Pollomacho at 1:27 AM on November 1, 2006

Response by poster: Hmm! That's a super idea - I'd love to meet other mefites.

I guess, though, I'd be wary of saying which paper it was, for reasons I can't exactly articulate.

And if I organised a meetup, well... there's only one paper in town.
posted by t0astie at 1:33 AM on November 1, 2006

You sound extremely prepared, and I think you'll do really well. The only thing I can think of is doing some analysis of the social, cultural and political profile and trends of the region, and thoroughly familiarising yourself with significant events in the town's history, so you can talk like a local.

Good luck, I'm sure you're be great!
posted by Lucie at 2:54 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Dude, I wish I were an editor so I could hire you. As I think I said in the earlier thread, your enthusiasm alone almost guarantees you will be hired.

I shouldn't tell you this, because you need to stay lean and hungry and eager, but some of the candidates for newspaper jobs these days - and I'm talking about big metro papers - are so clueless they don't put verbs in their ledes. People can't write anymore. So you have two big advantages right there. (But triple check your spelling and grammar before you file.)

Basically, they want to see:

a/are you smart?
b/are you eager?
c/can you write?
d/are you the kind of person who would fit in with their other employees?
e/(corollary:) are you the kind of douchebag who will demand good hours and a silly salary and think you deserve a medal for being willing to work at their paper. (You'd be surprised how many tryouts come in with attitude.)

That said, don't go enumerating all your preparations, which are impressive but bordering on scary.

The #1 thing you must do now is pray they don't give you a parade to cover.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:07 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Wait, you're in Australia?
Scratch everything I just said. All you have to do is drink your editors under the table.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:14 AM on November 1, 2006

Response by poster: CunningLinguist - thanks.

Reading that back, I think it might serve me well to take a solemn vow of printing-it-out-and-checking-it.

(Or maybe I can Nikko "Line BY LINE" on my hand.)

ps Am A-OK with parades. And hooray for beer! Will be fine on that count.
posted by t0astie at 6:15 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Set up a meeting with the local mayor or town leader to introduce yourself and see if he/she can help you. Explain the new in town angle and how you want to get "it right" about how the town is and want to hear his take on things.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:09 AM on November 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks JohnnyGunn - that's an awesome tip. Funny enough, I have arranged to meet with someone from the Council already, but I can think of a stack of other places I will be able to use that approach. And I mean, it's true – I do want to get it right. Brilliant!

Oh, and my bad: I've been a bit imprecise calling it a town. It seems small and far (oh so very, very far) away, to me. But it's actually a regional centre with a population of nearly 120,000.
posted by t0astie at 7:42 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: I am a reporter at a big metro paper, and I've never heard of a noob being as prepared as you. You'll do fine.

Frogan had some good advice in the earlier thread, except nobody uses pica poles or X-acto knives anymore.

Allow me to add this: Some of your new colleagues are going to be very, very burnt out. Your fresh-faced enthusiasm will not rub off on them. So don't be overbearing, but don't let it get you down if any of them give you a little ribbing.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Seconding M.C. Lo-Carb!... I'm a reporter and I don't consider myself even slightly burnt out, but overeagerness in newbies can be grating to everyone.

For example: coming prepared each day with three ideas is excellent, of course. But maybe on any given day you'll judge the atmosphere and decide that (for example) it would be more appropriate just to pitch the best one...

Don't get me wrong, though - risking overeagerness is far better than risking undereagerness. It is rather obvious from your post that you have an excellent career ahead of you.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:30 AM on November 1, 2006

Best answer: Get every story done way early, and wait at least 20 minutes before doing a final read through and turning them in. It's amazing the comma and apostrophe errors your eyes will just glaze over on a story you've been staring out without break.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:02 AM on November 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - you are all bestest answerers.

Croutonsupafreak, I will triple check before filing.

Game warden, thanks, that's really helpful. I've never actually been to conference, so it's the bit I'm most nervous about. Where I work now, it's weekly and I'm not there that day.

And I promise, in person, I'm actually pretty quiet and laid back, so hopefully I won't come across as insane and annoying with the keen.
posted by t0astie at 3:40 PM on November 1, 2006

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