Why use of ‘air quotes’ is only like the 17th worst thing about this LA Times Multiplatform Editor job post

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The actual job would best suit someone with experience in fast food expediting…or maybe a robot—the good kind. (A dog robot that can edit video and code a little might work too.)

-or-

THIS is everything wrong with print digital media.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

There are two types of people who read journalismjobs.com — the site that for the last decade and a half has been the best and most consistent chronicler of the death of a profession. They are:

  1. Current journalists who are wondering whether it’s worth taking a 8 percent pay cut (down to sub-$24k/year) to move to Laramie where you can actually still get into this double-wide, complete with Costco furniture that knows how to cook meth for under 45 grand. You’ll research the schools once you get in the newsroom.
  2. Former journalists who left the profession (why? See: above) and are either fishing around for how bad it’s gotten, or, because they’re journalists, require a post-lunch moment of self-flagellation. You know, time to think to maybe ‘see what’s out there’ or consider ‘getting back in the newsroom’ where: a) I was the most miserable/happy or b) I’ll just do it for a year and take good side notes about the crumbling state of the industry and blog anonymously about it then take six months off to turn it into a book in a cabin by a river as the film rights get snapped up by the Duplass brothers.

The exercise usually turns into finding a handful of job descriptions that are so broad, so untenable, so you-can-tell-this-used-to-be-14-different-jobs-now-rolled-into-one that you send out a mass email out to other current journalist friends living in trailers/former journalist friends contemplating living in trailers in lieu of learning how ADP payroll works.

…And then you go back to making a playlist for April called ‘AvrilISH’.

But sometimes there are jobs you actually consider applying for. Think about it as the once-every-eight-month normal-at-the-onset person bobbing up and down on a life raft in a sea of online dates. Think of it as the 3 a.m. brilliant idea, like the $.50 Shave Club (featuring 50 Cent shaving Delroy Lindo’s head on your first viral ad) or the notion to bring back fucking Zines.

Yes, once in awhile a job you really, really, really might love to someday hate pops up. This happened to me last night as I was trolling while waiting patiently for the doc Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (<- see what they did there) to get good.

There it was:

Los Angeles Times: Multiplatform Editor.

  • Major news organization in my backyard that I’ve always fantasized about working for: Check.
  • Cool-sounding job that I could soooooo do with the other skills I’ve learned (ready?) outside the newsroom: Check.

…Plus, everyone likes multiples of stuff, right?

But then I started reading the actual job post. That’s where the trouble began.

It started off predictably innocuous enough: The Los Angeles Times has an opening for a versatile multiplatform editor.

I’m not sure I’m versatile. I’m not sure any journalists are versatile. That’s why they’re, um, journalists. Anyway, versatile seems like a word from the ‘80s, like serendipity or superb or Patrick Nagel. Did someone write this ad in the ‘80s? Did someone get in the DeLorean, dial it back to ‘86, do a bunch of blow in the Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset bathroom after a Bangles show at the Whisky and then re-emerge to post this in the purple-gray light of cop movie Los Angeles dawn?

Then this: We’re looking for someone to join our multiplatform desk as our newsroom moves toward a news and enterprise hub that will identify the important stories of the day and figure out how to best report, write, edit, present and promote them.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on there LA Times. I ‘get’ that you need someone to do everything (all in one sentence!) but let’s say you were an airline posting for a similar need—it would go something like this: We at Delta are looking for someone to join our flight services team as we move toward single-integration enterprise flight services solutions that will load, secure, clean, fix, fly and land all planes—plus provide great consumer experience while in the air.

Lemme guess, the next paragraph you mention collaboration:

As part of this collaborative effort…

Ding ding.

…you’ll be responsible for creating, editing, curating and producing content across all Los Angeles Times digital and print platforms.

Now how bout the pace?

Lemme guess part II: You’ll work in a fast-paced environment…

Natch.

But here comes the best part: …with continuous digital publishing demands and daily print deadlines. You’ll serve as a qualitycontrol specialist, ensuring that all content complies with Times and Tribune standards. Interest in and knowledge of entertainment and the entertainment industry is a plus.

This is the Oh Fuck Me Moment: “Continuous digital publishing demands and daily print deadlines.”

This is what this means for your life:

  • You will never see your family.
  • You will never go outside.
  • You will never eat something that wasn’t grown in a wrapper.
  • Your dog will learn how to write and leave a fake ransom note and check himself into a shelter like it’s a 12-step program.
  • Your friends—when you Skype them—may gently suggest you update your profile picture, meaning that 20 newsroom pounds has added about 15 years in three months
  • You will want to take all these notes about how ridiculous it is that you are working off one. Continuous. Deadline. All. Day. Long…but have barely enough energy to scroll through the Trulia pictures of that double-wide in Laramie as you’re waiting for the coffee machine to kick in much less do that blog you were thinking about.
  • The next round of layoffs will include you because Google is developing a newsbot that crashes into buses and also acts as an aggregator of the top 100,000 stories featuring keywords like ‘Boaty McBoatface’ using its translation technology to auto-generate thousands of new stories based on keywords. Which, basically, is what they wanted you to do in the first place.

Now the fun part:

Responsibilities include:

  • Editing articles, live blogs, videos, photo captions and galleries, text for graphics and databases, and other content for grammar, syntax and Times style, as well as for formatting, search engine optimization, taste and legality. Writing engaging headlines and photo captions with those factors in mind.

(Why not just say: Check baggage, check passengers in, load baggage, wash the plane, gas up the plane, adjust plane wings, clean plane windows, fly plane, put plane on autopilot, hand out drinks, hand out nuts, collect garbage, collect portable DVD players, go back into the cockpit and steer plane through turbulence, make joke over PA, land plane, escort elderly passengers off, unload baggage, wash plane again…repeat (?)

  • Curating and producing digital content, including adding related material such as photos and story links and determining the location and play of articles, contributing significantly to the maintenance of the website.

(…Plus everything else we didn’t mention in bullet one, JIC you don’t get what ‘everything’ means.)

  • Providing “onetouch” editing, working with a level of accuracy that allows immediate posting on the Web, without someone else reviewing the work.

(Yes, we just used air quotes in a job description. No, we don’t give a fuck if you make mistakes. Just get it up. In fact, mistakes are good. Trolls love mistakes and that means COMMENTS!)

  • Expediting the movement of material between the Web and print by collaborating with multiplatform desk colleagues, assigning editors, reporters and bloggers, Web producers, page designers, graphics editors and photo/visual journalists.

(Here’s where your fast food experience comes in. Are you a shift manager at In-N-Out? Can you sweep, do the register, crush the potatoes without smashing off your fingertips? Can you make a Double Double Animal Style Protein Burger w/ketchup and mustard instead while you notice the pink lemonade dispenser has a slow leak and that kid with the rash over by the napkins needs stickers? This is the job for you. Oh, wait? You’re already making $25/hr. NVM.)

Deep breath:

Requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in journalism, communications or related field, or equivalent experience.

(Equivalent experience see: In-N-Out above.)

  • Superior skills in line editing and headline writing, combining news judgment  and knowledge of taste and legal considerations, gained through at least five years of experience (preferred).

(By five years experience, we mean if you’re at least five and can put together a think piece about how Sully Sullenberger might not have landed the plane safely had he known it was full of Millennials, feel free to apply.)

  • Demonstrated ability to work well in a team setting and multitask in a deadlinedriven environment.

(Wait? Did you say something about deadlines?)

  • Expertise in using the production systems and software tools required to edit, produce and curate content for digital and print. This may include Slack, Desk-Net, NewsGate/CCI, P2P, WordPress, the Microsoft Office suite, Google Docs, search engines and social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr.

(Basically if you’ve mastered all of the above you wouldn’t be considering this job unless there’s something wrong with you or you’re still mad that someone stole your spec script which was an awful lot like Dexter. Or you’re fucking 14. We get it, you’re deeply flawed, unstable, angry and your mom won’t buy you the phone you want. Welcome.)

  • Versatility and adaptability, working not just across production platforms but also across subject areas as needed.

(Not only should you know everything and know how to do everything and be willing to do it all day, every day, but if you could maybe throw in a House Hunters International reference or retweet Liz Phair from time to time, that should do it.)

Salary TBD. But how does $8 sound. Not $8/hr. Just $8?

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. I love this.
    For SO many reasons. As a former journalist (and one who audibly laments the death of most decent journalism, especially in print), as a digital enthusiast and as someone who just really digs your writing style.
    Keep up the good work.

    Thrive.

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