There are jobs out there, as long as you don't mind taking two or three and being paid for one.
This is not theory talking; I was unemployed for about eight months after my last newspaper job ended with the death of the paper.
I came across a wonderfully horrifying job offer at www.journalismjobs.com that I sent to a few people as an example of the wretchedness of the market, but I find, looking back, that I only sent the link and didn't cut-and-paste the job description itself. That link has expired, along with, no doubt, whatever poor schlub accepted the gig, which involved doing virtually everything at the paper except running the press and watering the plants.
Which means they probably job out their printing to save money and decorate with plastic plants. Or that they lump those under "and other duties as assigned."
I don't know how much reading-between-the-lines it takes to really appreciate this, but here's a current job description that is typical:
The city beat reporter is our most visible position, responsible for finding new ways to cover local city governement, issues, business and trends. The perfect candidate is intelligent, creative, fast, accurate, courageous and curious with a unique ability to visualize a story and know how to play it for maximum impact on the web and in print. You'll write, shoot photos and video, help with editing and production and be called upon to contribute to the entire editorial operation, not just your stories.
I would note that the same paper is looking for a news editor -- the two jobs are in the same ad, which is a hint as to spending policy at this place -- and the editor's job description includes this important qualification:
News Editor candidates must cringe at typos and missed deadlines and obsess over finding the perfect word. Prior newspaper experience, keen news judgement and proficiency in InDesign and PhotoShop are required for this position.
Which brings up the important question, are they planting typos in their ad to see if I'll notice and bring it up in the interview, or will doing that get me marked down as an insubordinate wiseass?
Which in turn brings up the important question, do I want to work at (A) a place that can't properly proofread its own ads or (B) that would play a juvenile game like purposely planting errors in their ads or (C) neither of the above?
But this is drifting away from Rina's cartoon.
Going back to that "city beat reporter" job, I think most people will recognize that being the city reporter traditionally means knowing the city government and the people in it, inside and out.
It does not mean racing in to grab a press release, listen to a 15-minute news conference and then scurry back to the newsroom and turn into an amalgam of Clark Kent, D.A. Pennebaker, Mark Zuckerberg and a mother bird, spewing out the regurgitated pap in all formats before running out to get another press release and repeat.
Granted, I used to fight this one with my editors when I was a business reporter, back in the Good Old Days 20 years ago.
I used to sit through chamber board meetings and gatherings of the Home Builders Association that didn't necessarily result in a story that day because I knew that the knowledge gained and the contacts created would lead to a much better, in depth story another day.
I'd generally get away with it because I am a faster-than-average writer, so that, even though I was wasting time learning how my beat actually operated, I was still cranking out plenty of stories about ribbon-cuttings and exciting expansions and well-deserved promotions.
But I wasn't being asked to shoot videos and edit the section. I did shoot a lot of my own photos; that's part of small-town reporting and it doesn't add to the time commitment. But I always felt that we in print had a great advantage over the local TV journalists because we weren't spending so much time in the editing booth and could afford to take time to cover a story right.
Reporters reported. Editors edited. Neither had time to do the other's job without shortchanging his own.
And they still don't.
Today, I look at the ads and wonder how anybody can be desperate enough to apply for these absurd portmanteau jobs.
You have to understand that a job like the city beat reporter above, given the size of the publication (15,000 weekly) probably pays less than $30,000 a year, quite possibly a lot less. But, whatever the amount, it doesn't pay enough to make up for the fact that you'd actually be doing two or three jobs.
And being cautioned not to put in any overtime. But to be "productive." Or else.
And that, even if you are productive, as the New Guy -- the guy who is still paying off his U-Haul bill from the move -- you'll be the first one out on the street when the next round of cuts comes along, stuck in Godforsakenberg, Iowa, where the only other jobs are at the 7-11.
And might actually be more fun.