When journalists turn down jobs...

...it speaks volumes, and it's happening right here.

Today when newspapers across the country are laying off editorial staffs to please Wall Street's demand for better bottom lines, it is unheard of  for journalists to turn down almost any job. It's unheard of, that is, except here on Cape Cod.

 In the past few weeks, these two events came to our attention;

  1. scheckyhatWhen former Editor Cliff "Would you buy a Wind Farm from this man" Schechtman abandoned Cape Cod Times and decamped to Newsday, a daily newspaper in Melville on Long Island, he kept his office Rolodex. He's now hiring his former sycophants from the Hyannis daily to come work for him there, despite the fact that there is obviously a hipper pool of talent in the New York Metro area from which to choose. That ain't exactly kosher, sort of biting the hand which fed you for ten years. Among his courtiers now attending him in Melville is CC Times Enterprise Reporter Emily Dooley who is remembered as one of the least enterprising writers the newspaper ever employed.

    One can't, after all, forget that she and a photographer were on a layover in Madrid, returning from an assignment in Africa in March 2003, on the same day as the worst terrorist attack since 9/11.  She scurried home without finding out what the "something big" was or scooping the rest of the American press with that story for her editors back in Hyannis.

  2. Tangential to this is the fact that three, possibly four, journalists who have been interviewed for jobs recently at CC Times have turned the the jobs down.  I don't know every journo on the cape, but the several I do know passed on the names in confidence, and I welcome any other info from others.

And one reason might be...

Red stars show editor's home locationsThe Cape Cod Times has a highly unusual editorial management tradition.

It allows its top editors to live outside its circulation area. Below are the top three names on the editorial staff directory followed by the towns they live in;

  • Editor in chief: Paul Pronovost, Fairhaven (near New Bedford)
  • Managing editor features: Alicia Blaisdell-Bannon, Marshfield (near Hanover)
  • Assistant managing editor daily news: Anne Brennan, Boston

We called it a "tradition" because these top editors have lived in towns far removed from the give and take of Cape Cod since before they took their positions, and remain there in some cases decades later. In addition, several reporters live off cape.  Some readers including this one believe this "distance learning" is hurting our local daily during tough times for newspapers in general.

I've been around newsrooms for half a century from the Greenwich CT Times, New York Post to MPG Communications and The Cape Codder, and I never knew a managing editor who thought it was not critical to live in the environment about which they wrote and managed the news coverage.

Rub hide with the herd or they will turn on you 

Mobbs at the helm of his Rhodes 19 When I took a pay cut to work for The Cape Codder here in 1965 it never occurred to me not to move to Cape Cod. Editor John Ullman told me my salary included "psychic benefits" like already being here in our sandy paradise after work each day and on weekends. Over the years most of the story ideas and news leads I get are during hours I am not in my office but out in the community "rubbing hide with the herd, or they will turn on you" as editor Mal Hobbs (on right) admonished me years ago.

I know that Bill Breisky who served as editor of the Cape Cod Times for seventeen years before Schechtman moved here before starting the job. Previous to that he was a magazine writer and editor in Philadelphia PA, a newspaper editor and publisher in Enfield, CT, a public relations director for the government of Bermuda, an editor at a Dover NH daily newspaper, and in all those instances as well, he moved to the venue about which he was to handle the news coverage.

Women's dresses designed to stop traffic

hydanceI have picked up scoops in places like my grandson's baseball games in Brewster, and as recently as last night sitting at Alberto's Ristorante on Main Street in Hyannis I spotted  a woman dancing in a store window directly across the street. That too became a news story. 

By walking across Main Street between my Fried Calamari and my Mussels Fra Diavolo I spoke with and photographed London Hall (in white dress in the window) at her dress shop London Bridges Women at 349 Main Street where she was bringing her savvy New York marketing to our local retail center. That's her "relief model" Leah on this side of the glass.

London's shop's motto is "Women's dresses designed to stop traffic", and it surely did last evening in Hyannis, but I would not have know this if I lived off cape.

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