Wednesday, July 19, 2006

And here we are again

I think I may be back at square one. I really don't know what my problem is.

I've been doing this copy editing thing about 7 months. It's OK. I know I'm not really good at design, but I can follow the rules and get my pages out on time. But I knew when I took this job that I didn't have a long career in this end of the journalism field. I thought I could do it for a few years and improve enough to work somewhere that doesn't pay as shitty as this place. That's practically what I was told to do at my interview, which gives you an idea of how much I'm valued here.

And of course, I knew that as a copy editor, I would work night hours. I always thought copy editors were compensated beyond their reporting colleagues because of the effect working nights has on one's life. Not here. I had to fight for the measley wage I'm on and was made to feel greedy. Night differential? Forget it. That's for the evil union papers.

I actually have a home life now. I want to spend time there with the person and pets that I love. Again, I know this is greedy and selfish on my part. But I feel like my life is passing me by. I have to take vacation days to go places on Saturday. You know, like to a wedding. That's why people have weddings on Saturdays, because that way they aren't asking anyone to take off work.

I understand this is an important job and someone has to do it. Today. But tomorrow this job will be obsolete. Plus it sucks and I can't stand it anymore.

I applied to be a reporter and I think I am quietly being told to go fuck myself. I don't think management likes me. Maybe my work ethic has slid a lot in the last few months. And I think they'd rather see how long they can bend me over before I quit instead of moving me somewhere I might do better. What the fuck is this paper going to do when all the people who have been there 20+ years retire? It will happen. It's happening now. They're going to have to hire more people and the only people willing to work for what they pay are people right out of college. All the young people seem to come and go quickly from this place. I think they have no interest in keeping us.

But I can't help feeling like a piece of shit for wanting to quit at the exact same stage as I quit my last two jobs. Why should I stay? I guess the only reason is to make my resume look a little better.

The problem is, I can't just try to get a reporting job at another paper. I am committed to living here at least a few more years. I have a house and a shitty ARM and a significant other who wants to finish college before leaving his job. And anyway, I like it here and see no reason to leave at the moment. I hate that about journalism, you always have to move to advance your career. What would that mean for the rest of my life? Should I just keep asking the person who will soon be my husband to just follow me all over the country pursuing jobs that pay half as much as his that I will hate at the end of 8 months? It's ridiculous.

Maybe if the field wanted to attract and keep good people, they should stop fucking them up the ass. Quit asking honest, hard-working people to screw over their own families for the sheer joy of working at a newspaper. Get over yourselves. It ain't that great.

I know newspapers are losing money now, but these crappy wages and hours and being treated like you're lucky to be working have been going on for a long time. I really think people just accept that as a hazard of the trade when they get into the business. There is no reason why. Trust me, the people who run the company that own your newspaper are living it up at your expense. While you shit yourself for $13 an hour they are laughing all the way to the bank and don't give a fuck about "community news" or anything else they call a priority. They are no different than any other corporate entity except that they pay far less.

I understand that the nature of a newspaper requires more night and weekend work than working in the accounts payable department at the widget company. But we all know there are newspapers with a culture of unclocked overtime right under the nose of the people in charge, and it thrives unchecked. The newspaper runs on the backs of the lowest-paid people there. All I'm saying is, if person A has been out of college two years and works 8 am to 5 pm typing up briefs, and person B has been out of college two years and works 5 pm to 1 am designing 10 pages, I think person B should be compensated better.

The point of this rant is that I don't know if I even want this fucking reporter job. Why bother? Why keep fucking myself over 900 different ways? Why not go work for someone who pays me a living wage and actually cares whether I stay or go?

Because I have guilt attacking me from all directions. Some of the management at my paper have been really nice to me. But I'm so naive I don't know when they're blowing smoke up my ass. I am given special projects, but is that because they think I'm a valuable employee or a sucker? And what of all the people at school who helped me pursue this career? I feel like I owe them something, but I don't know what.

I have no idea what I want to do. I'm just tired of feeling screwed over. Every time I've gotten one ounce of satisfaction from a newspaper, it's quickly followed by hearing about how much better some dumbfuck is doing at a dumbfuck job. Don't I deserve to be as happy as that dumbfuck? The satisfaction of winning some award or writing an article some people really enjoyed pales in comparison to the joy of knowing that I get to spend every night with someone I love, that I have the freedom to go see my friends. Walking my dog alone is more satisfying than scooping the paper across town.

Maybe I'm getting old but I'm again just feeling like I'm not cut out for this.