Sunday, March 13, 2011

Choosing between news job offers: Does size matter?

I'm fixing to update my big ol' list of Texas daily newspapers ranked by size (circulation). But before I do, I'd like to pass along some wise words given to me recently.

Not too long ago, an Aggie job-hunter wrote to me trying to decide between jobs at two newspapers. One of the questions this new grad asked me was, "Which paper looks better on a resume?" For perspective, I asked a very smart person I know who recently served a good stretch as editor-in-chief of a Texas newspaper. The answer is below!

Job offers at midsize paper and small paper:
Which will look better on a resume?

In my experience, this is something people put too much emphasis on. I think there are really just three categories of newspapers in terms of the weight that a paper carries just by listing it on your resume.

At the top are papers in that New York Times/Washington Post strata. Having those on a resume means a lot, obviously. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the weeklies and the really teeny-tiny dailies. Seeing those on a resume tells me you were working your butt off every day but you were probably never getting coached or even edited, so you’ve probably got a great work ethic but still have a lot to learn. Every other paper falls into a middle category where the name or size of the paper doesn’t really tell me much about you either way. All those papers in the middle, whether they are the size of the Bryan Eagle or the Dallas Morning News, have plenty of people working there who are studs and plenty who are duds. It is much more about the quality of your portfolio, the strength of your references and how well you do in the interview than it is about which paper looks better on your resume.

Read more about what editors at Texas newspapers are looking for in job candidates in this Aggie Journalists series of interviews.