Q: I need some help deciding on where to go next in my career.
After much soul-searching and many, many interviews, my career path recently took a new direction. I spent seven-plus years as a sports copy editor because sports is a passion and editing is natural and a strength. But for years I have blocked out something that is even more natural to me: teaching and mentoring. I also wanted to do things that had more of a community impact and were therefore more gratifying.
As a result, I have decided that my eventual goal is to be in charge of reporters at the least, perhaps a few editors, at a mid-sized or smaller daily.
When I came in second place on what seemed like an ideal job for me (editor of a 5,000 6-day in charge of three editors and several reporters) and missed out on a couple of other switches to the news side and all of them cited my lack of management experience, I took a huge pay cut to come to my current job, editor of a 7-year-old 2,500 three-day competing with a daily that has been in town for 150 years.
The experience has been wonderful, and I enjoy it and have produced some remarkable packages, but I am spiraling into debt and have to make a move soon. Right now I there are two prospects for which I've interviewed and am waiting on offers and a few more strong possibilities out there, but the competition is tough.
One of these is editor of a 2,500 weekly in an area closer to where my wife and I would like to live that is part of a larger newspaper group (two dailies and seven small weeklies) in a larger market, with one reporter and a few support staff. Another is news editor of a 6-day, in charge of four reporters and one layout person. Other possibilities I am considering include city editor at an 18,000 6-day, assistant city editor at a mid-sized state capital paper, editor of a 6,500 suburban weekly, etc.
Would any of these likely be a stumbling block to my goal? Even though we publish three days a week and 90 percent of my career has been at dailies, interviewers at dailies tend to ask about the shift from daily to weekly and ask whether it would be a big shock for me. Would moving to a weekly for a year or two make it more difficult to shift back to daily down the road? If I pick a weekly that's part of a group, do you think I'd have a better chance getting in on the flagship daily?
Jim in Illinois
A: While you can get the kind of work you want at either a daily or a weekly, it sounds as though you need to be at a daily to have the kind of paycheck you need.
I'd focus on getting back to a daily, relying on your extensive experience there and explaining yor move to a weekly as a way to get management experience that you would now like to bring back to dailies.
I would try hard to not string together two weeklies in a row. You'll just make editors who are skeptical about your return to dailies that much more reluctant.