Story Of A Job Applicant Yesterday, Today
By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
February 14, 2019
We received a job application from a young man living in
the Midwest. He showed no experience in any phase of the
newspaper business, but said he had always loved to write.
His written language was poor, and he said he had graduated
with a degree in media and communication.
We were honest with him and said his writing skills were
ground level and that if he was serious about entering the
field of journalism, he needed to start at the very lowest
level. He needed to go to the nearest newspaper office,
and offer to take any job no matter how menial even sweeping
“Offer to work for free just to get your foot in the
door,” we told him. Then ask the editor if he might
interview someone and submit his article for free. He needed
to start taking pictures and when he was good at it, offer
to cover sports or other subject matter and submit it free
for the newspapers use.
If he was lucky enough, then it was a start, but not much.
We told the applicant money didn’t matter at this
stage. A young person can live on next to nothing. Camp
out and forage for food. We had done it when we first came
to the California valley to attend college at Fresno State.
However, then the tuition was only $31 a semester.
We were so poor we stole oranges off trees. But we survived,
and later, when we were drafted into the military, we served
in Korea as a medic, but we were lucky enough to get a job
as a military correspondent.
That was when the bug got us. We fell in love with writing,
and even after the war, when we were fired from our first
job and told we would never make it as a newspaper reporter,
we did not quit.
Instead we wrote a letter to ourself so we could remember
that day in case we did ever became a reporter.
Now, after 55 years as a publisher, we have become a teacher
of reporters because college graduates come to us and cannot
write. They pay thousands of dollars to go to college or
university, and they cannot write.
Unfortunately, we can only teach one intern at a time because
our paid writers have full-time jobs and have a very limited
amont of time. Yet teachers get paid a lot of money to teach
and do not teach, where as we are expected to teach and
pay the student for the pleasure of teaching him or her.
Something is wrong here.
We also wonder why the reporters of today do such a poor
job of reporting. Most of them do not understand that their
job is to report, not make news about themselves.
We are sick of the national media reporting like they are
talk show hosts. There is no real news today. Try and find
So you say you want a job, then start writing for yourself.
And when you write something you feel is special, submit
it free to the editor of the local paper. Maybe, just by
chance, he or she will take you under his or her wing. Once
again without pay.
If you are lucky enough to have that happen you may become
a writer. And if by chance you get the bug, and you find
a profession which you love, then you will never work another
day in your life.