Journalism lesson 201: keep track of your hours

I got an email from a friend of mine, a Glendale News-Press alum like myself, with the subject line: “Victory over the Tribune Co.” Essentially, the email was to let us (several Glendale News-Press alumni) know that he got word from his lawyer that Tribune agreed to settle his unpaid overtime claim and along with the sale of the Cubs, this meant victory over the Tribune Co. I am not allowed to say whether or not there was a monetary settlement, nor even who it is. Just trust me that there was a claim filed, a settlement agreed to, and a friend who wishes to remain unnamed (although I will say the friend is still working in newspapers).

Several of us GNP alumni considered filing overtime claims, but where my friend excelled was in the homework – said friend kept track of worked hours and made copies of the time sheets they made us sign, but never allowed us to amend to reflect real time worked. Those of us covering meetings got the real short end of the overtime stick – I had many days where I started at 11 and went home close to 11. And I know I was not the only one.

Old school journalists say that that’s just part of paying your dues in journalism. But I say – when you’re doing stories that suck (buildings being named, a check presentation, hello?!!) for people who treat you like crap (ahem, and I won’t name names again) for less than what a Starbucks barista makes, the least they could do is pay you overtime.

When I left the GNP, I briefly considered doing the same thing. But I had a problem – I didn’t keep any records. But it was OK with me – getting my new job and being able to give notice to my editor (effectively telling her she would no longer have a business, politics OR education reporter) was reward enough for me.