Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mitchel Stevens’ Guide to Journalism and Time

Editor's Note: The following column is part of an anonymous weekly humor column chronicling the struggle of a new, young journalist out in the working world. You may find the author's previous posts in the archives. --The Ed.

Wowie zowie, Internet, life sure is hectic. On one hand, it’s another day at the News Bar sipping my caffeinated lifeblood, on the other I’m finally employed!

In fact, I’m super employed. I’m working a combined 35 hours a week for little under minimum wage. See, this might be the downside to all those Craigslist ads promising “WORK FROM HOME” and “CAN WORK FROM ANYWHERE.”

You, in fact, are never off the clock. And even if you’re told to do a minimum of ten hours a week (Monday through Sunday), my bosses have a funny way of demanding I work more hours. In fact, why aren’t I working at least four or five hours a day. Why am I doing other things? Why don’t I answer their e-mails right away?

It’s odd, you know. I don’t want to give the opinion that I’ve stopped searching for full-time employment, but these web-based, new media jobs are so gosh-darn plentiful. Every day Craigslist is filled with these types of jobs. Everything’s easy, made to fit the writer and you have the choice to write about whatever you want!

Isn’t that just grand?

But the more of these you take on, the harder it becomes to keep track of them. I’ve sort of got it down to a science now, splitting my morning, afternoon and evening up between the ones I currently work with—but the morning site wants my time in the afternoon, then the afternoon site demands more time in the morning while evening is copasetic, and copasetic is never going to last for long.

I write three weekly invoices for all of my jobs, sending them in at different times throughout the week. You may think it’s a little annoying or confusing, but I’m finally getting the hang of it. One of the sites—the morning one—didn’t let me know that they weren’t receiving my invoices.

In fact, they didn’t let me know for four weeks. And after I wrote to ask where my checks were, they reprimanded me for not using the right email—even though someone was receiving my invoice with my social security number. But of course, I’m sure they just assumed I was working for free for the last few weeks.

And really, none of these are what you’d call “writing jobs,” since they mainly involve performing what we know as “news aggregating.” That means I cherry pick from other sites (like the New York Times, The Stranger or City Paper) and repost stories—linking back at the very end.

But I’m confident that in no time at all, I’ll be writing the book on media. In fact, I bet one day kids will be forced to buy my book in order to take the class that I’ll inevitably teach. They’ll learn all the important aspects, like how to write notes; how to watch videos; how to read books and how to ruin friendships by discussing my book outside of class with people and think they give a darn.

Man, I can’t wait. In the mean time, I need to finish ten more hours of work so I can keep making $500 a month! Yep, nothing quite like working four jobs for barely minimum wage. Man, that [INSERT COLLEGE NAME HERE] degree is coming in handy. I was almost worried I wasted that money on pointless things. Like a fake degree.

Or blogging.


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