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Once a Journalist, Now a Writer

Are Writing Skills truly valued by society?

By Shanon NormanPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
A former journalist may have "outdated" opinions

In high school, I just wanted to pass my classes and make it to graduation. I was not a straight-A student although I admired them. I was average in my studies, because of the course load and my passion for "electives" such as Journalism and Theater. I figured if I couldn't be an actress, I could always write. So I put most of my passion and concentration into those two areas.

After I became a mommy, I was fortunate to land a job with The Tampa Tribune. The pay was low in my opinion as a single mother, only $9 per hour. I was hired as a Customer Service Rep for the Classified Ads department. I had rent, car payment, and car insurance to pay while at the same time trying to be mommy to a little boy beginning Kindergarten. It was too much stress on me as a mommy, but this article is about what I learned 20 years ago while I was at that job, working for the newspaper.

I was so happy to be among others who loved the newspaper. It was just like the happiness I felt when I was on the newspaper team in high school. However, I was not an Editor or a Writer, like I was in high school. My job consisted of answering calls from Classified Ad purchasers and to provide information and trouble-shooting when they called. Helping the customers was actually the easy part most of the time. The hardest part of the job was the deadlines. Each day, not only did I have to quickly and efficiently assist our customers, but I also had to make sure that all their ads were written up correctly and submitted before the day's end deadline. It was a stressful time management task. There were only two Customer Service Reps in the department. All of the other people in cubicles there were Ad Sales Reps, which meant they made a lot more money getting the ad buyers sales, because they also got commission. I do not know if they had quotas or deadlines, but I know that the deadlines put a lot of pressure on me and my fellow Customer Service Rep.

Sometimes I was glad that I didn't work in Sales. I wondered what would happen if you couldn't get any sales. I wondered if that would put your job in jeopardy. I thought my job in Customer Service was more secure than that.

However, it was all tied together. Because if the Salesmen didn't bring in the ads, then the Customer Service Rep could not assist any customers. Just like at the restaurant, where if the kitchen takes too long to cook the food, even the best waitress is going to get gyped out of a decent tip.

Today, there are many online apps and websites where people can place their advertisements. I was happily surprised over a decade ago when Craigslist had such an opportunity available for aspiring entrepreneurs. I used to be able to place an ad selling a used car for free. Now it costs $5 to place that ad. And have you looked at the Classified Ads section in current newspapers? It's half the size it used to be. Why? Because they are not the only place to put an ad. They were expensive back then because no one knew where else to put those ads. Now they are less expensive because there are plenty of places to put those kinds of ads. I've looked through Facebook marketplace, the LetGo app, and other websites where regular people are selling or giving something away.

But if you can't afford a $5 ad on Craigslist, or no one is responding on Facebook or LetGo, then there is still the old-fashioned flyer or posted note at the laundromat. There's always a way to get the word out, whether you can afford expensive advertising or not.

What does advertising have to do with Journalism? That's what I wondered back in high school when I thought all I had to do was write articles, but we also had to sell an ad. Why do I have to sell an ad? I'm just a writer. The paper costs money. The ink costs money. The printer wants to be paid also. This is why the cliche "It takes money to make money" is often echoed, while others laugh and say "Money doesn't grow on trees" which is not as funny to the employees who work for the Paper.

I left that job after six months because of stress, low pay, and realizing that I wasn't going to be looked at as a writer or considered for a promotion. I took a teaching job that paid much much more and thought as a mommy that would be better for my future. I was wrong about that also because the mommy thing was a job that I was neglecting for a paying career. "Hindsight is 20/20" is the most accurate cliche.


About the Creator

Shanon Norman

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Jay Kantor2 months ago

    Hi Shanon ~ So good to see you pop-up: Just refer to me as the 'cork-board laundry advertiser.' I have no idea what 'Out of Date Opinions' might be; according to whom. I thought about you re; how you lead into many of your stories with your 'personal' splashy artwork. So, I've tried my simple sketches with the last couple of my pieces, and I feel they give the headings a better lead-in that way as yours have; check them out. Thank you for the idea; stand in line for royalties. Hope you're good.

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