Job search in Palm Springs

When I was at my old job, I went on what you could say was a parade of job interviews, from the Associated Press, to the Ventura County Star to the Riverside Press-Enterprise to the Orange County Register. It was always exhausting — I don’t know if you’ve tried this but talking about yourself with at least three new people in the span of two hours or more (think six hours at the Star) is really tiring. But even as I was desperate for a new job, I did not want to get into another job that I would just as desperate to leave within a year.

January 26, 2005,  1:05 a.m.

I went on another job interview with my husband this weekend. This is the one where the Desert Sun was going to put us up in a hotel, right? Well, a few things:

First, the area where the paper is based it two hours away from Los Angeles, so I planned it so that we would head out there immediately after church. So we packed everything we needed for a night and a day, including our interviewing clothes (or so I thought) and headed out. But as we walked through the door of our hotel room, my husband let out a breath and said, “I forgot my interview clothes.”

Heh. It wasn’t quite as dramatic as that, but essentially that’s what happened. It was such an odd occurrence too, seeing as how my husband is so fastidious (he hangs his jeans, dude). Anyway, we had to go find an open Ross or Marshalls and ended up at Mervyn’s, no thanks to the dismal directions of our hotel clerks. My husband, fastidious as he is, must have spent at least 40 minutes picking out ties, then shirts, then pants, then going back to get a different shirt because the first one didn’t match the pants well, or something…..ech. Shopping sucks when its not for yourself.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel (why can’t we have an omelet AND waffles? dang.) after getting spiffy and cleaning up our room, checked out and moved it on out to the paper’s newsroom. We got there about 9:05 a.m……and left about 7 p.m. Eck. Essentially, I spoke to just about everyone who was there at the time – an assistant managing editor, the new bureau editor, the police reporter. I had lunch at a fancy shmancy, power lunch-type place with the AME and the bureau editor, and came back to talk with the executive editor before heading out to check out the bureau. Sadly, I never made it to the bureau, but I did speak to the business editor who was awesome, and two senior reporters who’d been there for a while.

My impressions are:

  • There are apparently a lot of unhappy reporters, and that usually means bad management. Bad management usually spawns any number of issues – too few reporters, too much work and too many initiatives for those too few reporters, bad editing. The police reporter let me know that several other reporters had left without first lining up jobs, that’s how bad it was.
  • Most of the management is extremely new – the bureau editor was on her third day on the job and even the executive editor’s only been there three years. Not a good sign.
  • My husband and I had peeked at their Sunday paper the night before the interview and what we saw was not good. He did not like their news design or even their feature pages. I didn’t like the stories I saw (both in terms of subject and in the way they flowed) and, in my opinion, thought they were badly edited.
  • Grilling the police reporter on her workload, it sounds as if it might be just like my current paper – about two stories a day, two briefs a day. Problem is, the stories out there are longer, with the editors wanting plenty of boxes, charts and pre-packaged info along with it. Um, I’m not trying to kill myself all over again, thanks.
  • Later on the drive home, my husband mentioned that his friend told him if we got an offer, the executive editor would probably try to lowball us. Um, not a good sign.
  • Having spent some time in that area again, I remembered why I wouldn’t want to live there.

I don’t know what’s going to happen now. The editors seemed to really like me, with the AME and the bureau editor absolutely loving the fact that I had cops experience (don’t most reporters? confused…). If they offered me a job, I don’t think I’d take it. I would rather have the other job, at the San Bernardino County Sun, but again, I don’t know if my former EIC has slammed me – I haven’t heard from that paper yet. I’m concerned, but I won’t worry – I’m going to leave this in God’s hands.