Award-winning journalism job post


UPDATE: Just to be clear, I am not the author of this job post. The phrasing of the Mother Jones post might have led some to believe I was. It was written by Matt Doig of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

This job posting went out on a listserv I subscribe to. Classic (and real, if you’re interested):

We want to add some talent to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigative team. Every serious candidate should have a proven track record of conceiving, reporting and writing stellar investigative pieces that provoke change. However, our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.

We do a mix of quick hit investigative work when events call for it and mini-projects that might run for a few days. But every year we like to put together a project way too ambitious for a paper our size because we dream that one day Walt Bogdanich will have to say: “I can’t believe the Sarasota Whatever-Tribune cost me my 20th Pulitzer.” As many of you already know, those kinds of projects can be hellish, soul-sucking, doubt-inducing affairs. But if you’re the type of sicko who likes holing up in a tiny, closed  office with reporters of questionable hygiene to build databases from scratch by hand-entering thousands of pages of documents to take on powerful people and institutions that wish you were dead, all for the glorious reward of having readers pick up the paper and glance at your potential prize-winning epic as they flip their way to the Jumble… well, if that sounds like journalism Heaven, then you’re our kind of sicko.

For those unaware of Florida’s reputation, it’s arguably the best news state in the country and not just because of the great public records laws. We have all kinds of corruption, violence and scumbaggery. The 9/11 terrorists trained here. Bush read My Pet Goat here. Our elections are colossal clusterfucks. Our new governor once ran a health care company that got hit with a record fine because of rampant Medicare fraud. We have hurricanes, wildfires, tar balls, bedbugs, diseased citrus trees and an entire town overrun by giant roaches (only one of those things is made up). And we have Disney World and beaches, so bring the whole family.

Send questions, or a resume/cover letter/links to clips to my email address below. If you already have your dream job, please pass this along to someone whose skills you covet. Thanks.

Matthew Doig

Sarasota Herald-Tribune
1741 Main St.
Sarasota FL, 34236
(941) 361-4903
matthew.doig@heraldtribune.com

129 thoughts on “Award-winning journalism job post

  1. “We have all kinds of corruption, violence and scumbaggery. The 9/11 terrorists trained here. Bush read My Pet Goat here. Our elections are colossal clusterfucks.”

    Ah, that’s hilarious!

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  3. I guess the paper also needs copy editors:

    “However, our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.”

    (A singular noun — ideal candidate — takes a singular pronoun; them and their both are plural. )

    • Proves that there needs to be a copy editor in the mix somewhere, even with the most brilliant potential prize-winning epic.

    • ‘They’ as a gender-neutral singular pronoun is now more or less standard in British English. It’s convenient, doesn’t impede meaning, and actually flows better than, for example, “he/she”. I’d encourage its use, personally.

    • Paul Long – Long on pedantry, short on humour.

      If I were you, Mr, Long, I wouldn’t apply. I think the ad is conceived to dissuade pricks like you.

      • EdL,

        How wonderful to see a journalistic battle over grammar rising to a pitch that calls forth the epithet “pricks”!

        On the edge of the economic precipice, we can still battle about stuff like this.

    • Three points:

      1. Great job post. Almost makes me want to be a journalist again.

      2. Him or her, especially used twice, is cumbersome and ugly. Them is fine in this relaxed context.

      3. Anyone who uses semicolons should be taken with a grain of salt.

      • A friend got a surgery for his colon. He now lives with a semi-colon.

        My colon is slightly awkward.

        Both of us joined the Club Pro Stata.

      • Split infinitives are acceptable, and have been for some time. Kindly join the twenty-first century.

    • you(Singular or Plural) totally missed the point, this listing was to supposed to find a witty candidate (a smart ass with potential — not a passive aggressive pain in the ass)

    • Using “them” and “their” as gender-neutral singular pronouns is now considered proper. The new version of the NIV Bible does this, for example. Also, if you consider “he/she” or “he or she”, it can be argued that these are plural constructs. I would also have to say that to be gender-neutral with singular pronouns, using “it” and “its” in place of “them” and “their” in the above instances is rude because it robs them of their humanity (much like the character Buffalo Bill does in “Silence of the Lambs” – “IT puts the lotion on ITS skin!”).

    • Re the his/her/their debate.

      You could use one’s. It’s gender neutral and has a certain ring, like an itchy gibbon. Even though I am part of the tribe what invented this language, (Protestants and bread thieves* must have had a thing about the letter ‘u’ and thrown it overboard) , I use ‘their’. So there. FWIW. lol.

      * Sorry. That’s Australians. Ignore.

    • Do you not get the joke or his play on irony? In the sentence where his “typos” appear, he also notes that the “ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor.” Apparently, you should not apply as you are clearly not the “sicko” he is looking for.

    • FYI, the em-dashes that you are using around “ideal candidate” should not have spaces on either side.

      From Wikipedia:
      “According to most American sources (e.g., The Chicago Manual of Style) and to some British sources (e.g., The Oxford Guide to Style), an em dash should always be set closed (not surrounded by spaces).”

      Please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash for the sources.

      • No space em dashes, as any editor ought to know, effs up the flow in the narrow columns of the printed page. Hence, always use them.

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  5. @Paul Long

    I’m not sure that the usage of traditionally plural pronouns is incorrect, given the colloquial tone of this post. Forms of they are quickly becoming adapted and accepted as non-gender specific singular pronouns. They’re easier and simpler to use (and say, who thought these were a good idea?) than things like he/she, him/her, etc, and you’re safe using them in pretty much all circles regardless of political ideology.

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  9. I am their kind of sicko. Unfortunately, I am not able to relocate to Sarasota. It’s heartening to know they are their. I will begin checking their website regularly.
    And all you uptight copy editors – missing the bigger point, as usual! We still need you though.

  10. After years of running a small regional mag, this job posting makes me yearn for my days in the newsroom. Unfortunately, my whole staff has seen it and we all want to work there. Journalists!

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  13. subject-pronoun mistake on candidate –> their … at end of first paragraph. hope he doesn’t cuss out this editor. :)

  14. Speaking of Pulitzers— I think this is Steve Doig’s son. Doig Sr. won a Pulitzer for his work at the Miami Herald in ’93. He’s now at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

    • Yes, Matt is my son. And the Herald-Tribune is the real deal when it comes to investigative work. Matt and his i-team colleagues have been Pulitzer finalists twice in three years.

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  19. “But if you’re the type of sicko who likes holing up in a tiny, closed office with reporters of questionable hygiene to build databases from scratch by hand-entering thousands of pages of documents to take on powerful people and institutions that wish you were dead, all for the glorious reward of having readers pick up the paper and glance at your potential prize-winning epic as they flip their way to the Jumble… well, if that sounds like journalism Heaven, then you’re our kind of sicko.”

    Epic!

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  29. Everything went well until it descended to the vulgar (cluster****). When used in a formal setting it is an abomination. In normal conversation with a foul-mouthed comedian such as Maher it is acceptable.

  30. Wow, what a job ad. He is the type of editor who will keep journalism alive for sure. I wish I had seen an ad like this four years ago after working in numerous newsrooms that were as dead as road kill. I fit right into this guy’s journalism wrench and it sounds like I would have loved to work with him and his team. Oh well. It is sad to know so many newsrooms have no flair at the top, instead filled with a bunch of tie-wearing, gray-haired wimps who are scared to challenge anyone or anything.

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  32. As long as I get to wear a Fedora and smoke a pipe or cigar, gimme gimme gimme! Oh, and I’ll be needing a dashing London Fog, a press pass and anything else that makes me look hot. I guess those photos of my father sitting behind the editor’s desk at the Lakeland Ledger back in 1943 just made yearn for the good old days before I was born. Oh well, back to the future…….

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  36. If only I had stayed in journalism and stayed in Florida….that dream job would be MINE!!!! Whatever ‘colossal clusterfuck’ gets the job GOOD LUCK!!

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  38. For those unaware of Florida’s reputation,… We have hurricanes, wildfires, tar balls, bedbugs, diseased citrus trees and an entire town overrun by giant roaches (only one of those things is made up).

    Does anyone know which one was made up? Those all look like things Florida has. Could it be that some Panglossian chamber of commerce has gotten the legislature to define “disease” as stuff the citrus trees don’t have?

    • Florida does indeed have diseased citrus trees (i.e. canker, greening, etc.). The one that is made up is the “entire town overrun by giant roaches.” I thought it was obvious which was made up, although I may have viewed it this way because I am a Floridian.

      • Yes, no town is overrun by giant roaches. But Florida roaches in fact are giant. They are called “palmetto bugs” and they fly — like bats.

  39. This is wonderful. Who cares about the minor editing mistakes, it’s still brilliant. It was meant to be funny.

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  41. I thought I was reading about myself. I’ve threatened, used the f word at my publisher AND hung up on him, and pissed people off, only they usually come around after a few days. All this at a weekly gig in a cow town where council meetings include muddy boots and inappropriate public comment. I’ve tricked the deputies into going on the record and they still walk me to my car at public meetings. Go figure. Being a reporter is the best damn job in the world even if you have to work in a hole with outdated equipment, put up with the local police chief who “runs this damn town as he sees fit”, make friends with the senior center folk and eat their $5 lunches just to show my support even though I’m allowed to have salt, stroll into school board only to find out the school bus was hit by an SUV on a snow covered county road and I’m going to have to walk a cornfield in my converse just to get the shot AND all those old Amigo sacks in my car I clean out once a week. Thanks for being creative with your ad :)

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  52. A network correspondent once told me I was sick enough to be in the news business. This want ad made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

  53. I work in a creative field and this really as creative as job ads can be.
    I bet it will really weed out those who just don’t get “it” and will make your life easier.

    Cheers,
    Dmitri

  54. I couldn’t have written a better ad myself. I’m not from FL but I could fit your bill – wouldn’t mind telling a few people to f.o.

  55. I’d apply, but looking at his father’s post, I think I’m closer to his father’s age. I would still relish a position where I could go after baldie in Tallahassee.

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