Saturday, December 09, 2006

Must be getting older...

End-of-the-year fun at the workplace puts me in the driver's seat (aka Page A1 duty) for the sixth day this week. I don't mind, but I think if I had to do this for weeks on end, I would not be amused.

When I was younger and much more of a striver, there were a couple of years in which circumstances conspired to put me in the office six and sometimes seven days a week. Luckily, those two years were not consecutive and were at different workplaces.

Oh, and I was hourly back then, so I piled up the OT. I recall that one of those years, 20 percent of my pay was time-and-a-half... but I was still a grouch a lot of the time. I'm not sure why the butterfly lady stuck around, but I'm damn glad she did.

Anyway, those two years should have brought riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice, but newspapers aren't exactly the highest-paying places to work, so I just did pretty well. Newspapers are also ridiculously fun places to work, so I'm far from complaining.

But industry-wide, the low pay is bullshit, especially when you take into account that we are in a very profitable branch of manufacturing.

I am fortunate to work at a newspaper that pays better than its peers, but many people are not. At my last employer, entry-level reporters get about $12 an hour (in southern New Hampshire, where a decent apartment is about $900 a month). Managers fare much better, but that isn't really the point.

I've heard people say that lower pay is actually a good thing, because it means the only people who take the jobs are people who truly want them, not just slackers seeking high pay.

Gee, I wonder who came up with that reasoning.


lulu said...

I've heard that reasoning about teachers as well.

Alasdair said...

Ugh, no kidding.

You know, I have never been to the doctor's office and had an interaction with a nurse that left me thinking, "Man, she's just in it for the money."

So I think our industries' pay has more to do with cheapskate voters and avaricious shareholders (or are those the same thing?) than with the vow of poverty = great work.

That said, many big papers pay a hell of a lot of money. I suspect the same is true for private schools and those in certain well-heeled districts.

For me (and you, too?) I prefer to be where I am because I can see the difference I make on a daily basis, both for readers (who frequently call me and talk to me in the street) and for my staff (who kick butt).

I wouldn't be inclined to trade in my job for the same gig at a mega-paper (unless the butterfly lady migrates to a large city. Even then, I'd try to hire on with an alternative weekly or something).

I know big papers do important work, but I would still feel like a sellout, kind of like the Eagles, still milking the outsider cred with "Desperado."