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Bigger isn't always better.

No man is an island, and no newspaper seems to be, either. The nation's economic slowdown has been felt by publishers throughout the country. That doesn't mean, however, that newsrooms are in full retreat or that all reporters and editors are jumping ship. In many places, newspapers continue to offer the most interesting jobs in town.

Along with job satisfaction, journalists in some cities enjoy the added bonus of a high quality of life. To keep our spirits up, we decided to take an appreciate look at five markets around America.

The Sun, Bremerton, Washington.

CIRCULATION: 41,400 p.m. OWNER: John P. Scripps Newspapers. POPULATION, metro area: 189,000. HOUSING: 2 BR apt., $500 per month; median single family home, $93,250. PAY, entry level reporter: $430 per week.

Bremerton sits in Kitsap County, Washington, across the Puget Sound from Seattle. Last fall, it replaced its neighbor at the top of Money magazine's list of the "best places" in the United States.

The magazine based its No. 1 rating on Kitsap's robust economy and outstanding environmental character. Mike Phillips, editor of The Sun, is not reluctant to elaborate. In addition to weathering the national recession, he says, the area has two big pluses: Its location and its people.

"We have all the advantages of Seattle, with the buffer of some distance. We're at the foot of the Olympic Mountains, which has got to be the most breathtaking spot in the country . . . . And the people here are Northwesterners."

Which means, wherever you live in Kitsap County, you have great neighbors. The pace in The Sun's newsroom has been breathtaking itself. In the past year, the newspaper has developed new beats, launched new sections and installed a Macintosh-based editing and layout system that the staff helped to design. "We've been developing new products at the rate of one every two or three months," Phillips reports.

And this fall, the newspaper plans to add a Sunday edition.

In the midst of its organizational and technological upgrades, The Sun's staff also has initiated a year-long examination of the Hood Canal, a glacial fiord Phillips describes as an environmental treasure of the Olympic Peninsula.

"It can be saved if the community acts now," he says. "And we're trying to lead the way."

St. Paul Pioneer Press

CIRCULATION: 200,000 (d), 261,000 (S); a.m. OWNER: Knight-Ridder. POPULATION, metro area: 2.1 million. HOUSING: 2 BR apt, $500 per month; median single family home, $88,700. PAY, entry level reporter: $453 per week.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press had a unique 1990: a redesign, a new editor and managing editor. Competing with the Minneapolis Star Tribune across the river, the Pioneer Press staff has "the fighting spirit of the underdog," according to Managing Editor Mindie Keirnan.

Known for valuing lengthy, magazine-style writing, the Pioneer Press won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1986 and 1987.

The Pioneer Press emphasizes participatory management and team-building Editor Walker Lundy met for half an hour with every staff member, from metro editor to agate clerk, to come up with goals for the paper. A new employee evaluation form was hung on the bulletin board for staff comments and suggestions.

The Twin Cities offer a wonderful combination: city life 20 minutes from the country. You can live on a farm, in a high-rise or in an old brownstone with a stone fireplace. St. Paul is a safe city known for its excellent public schools. Money magazine placed the area at number 7 out of 300 top places to live. Life is outdoors-oriented, with four professional sports teams and ski slopes 25 minutes away.

The area is the cultural drawing card of the Midwest, attractive to young people. St. Paul is 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis with its many theaters, museums and restaurants. St. Paul's strong alternative culture offers food co-ops, bookstores, and job listings for activists in the classifieds.

Albuquerque Journal

CIRCULATION: 118,000 (d), 154,000 (S) a.m. OWNER: Thompson H. Lang. POPULATION, metro area: 460,000. HOUSING: 2 BR apt., $400 per month; median single family home, $84,500. PAY, entry level reporter: $400 per week.

Picture New Mexico: dramatic mesas, a mild climate with distinct seasons, a multi-cultural environment with strong Hispanic and Native American influences. This state capital is a competitive news town, home of the Albuquerque Journal and The Albuquerque Tribune. The papers are corporately and editorially separate, with merged business, circulation and mechanical departments.

The morning Albuquerque Journal is known for aggressive news-chasing and investigative reporting. Its expose on the life-threatening food supplement, L-tryptophane, won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for special reporting.

Also in 1990, the Journal started a monthly magazine called Sage, for working women. It focuses on the challenges of juggling both careers and households. Committed to community participation, the Journal offers related seminars on health and fitness, finance, and coping with job stress.

In the mid-80s, the Journal moved into new campus-style facilities in a pastoral setting. The equipment is modern; the paper is printed on Goss offset presses.

Albuquerque is affordable as well as beautiful. You can still buy a starter home for $60,000. Housing ranges from old adobes along the Rio Grande River to traditional homes in the nearby mountains. Variety is the key to life in New Mexico. "You can virtually ski and play golf the same day," says Editor Jerry Crawford. "That's possible within 15 miles."

Attractions include Pueblo ruins, Old Town's historic adobes and shops, and nearby Santa Fe, a world-renowned artistic community.

Minuses: The Journal staff took a recent pay cut; salaries are frozen for the year.

But there are tradeoffs. A delicious Mexican meal is only a few dollars.

The Indianapolis Star

CIRCULATION: 244,000 (d), 408,000 (S) a.m. OWNER: Central Newspapers. POPULATION, metro area: 1.2 million. HOUSING: 2 BR apt., $415 per month; median single family home, $74,800. PAY, entry level reporter: $416 per week.

The Indianapolis Star, Indiana's largest paper, is known for its strong news reporting. Traditionally, it wins many state and regional awards. Last year, it completed a major investigative piece on the problems of medical malpractice.

Currently undergoing a redesign, the Star just launched Sunrise, a section that combines lifestyle, entertainment, arts, comics, puzzles and the TV page. With new offset presses and new Managing Editor Frank Caperton, the Star has a commitment to the improved use of graphics and photography.

And it's a fun place to work.

"We have a group of talented professionals," says Caperton. "Many have roots here -- this is where they've decided to be."

Indianapolis is large enough to have urban amenities, good restaurants and shopping; small enough you can quickly be in the corn fields. It's a tremendous city for both professional and amateur sports, including the Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis 500, and the Indianapolis Colts. It is also a great museum town, with the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Children's Museum and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art.

Downtown is under renovation: Union Station has been restored with shops and restaurants. A world-class mall is under construction.

Minuses: Current hiring freeze.

Greensboro News & Record

CIRCULATION: 121,000 (d), 137,000 (S) a.m. OWNER: Landmark Communications. POPULATION, circulation zone: 251,000. HOUSING: 2 BR apt., $450 per month; median single family home, $111,142. PAY: Not available.

Just one hour from North Carolina's booming research triangle, Greensboro nonetheless faces some belt-tightening because of a retail slowdown. This hasn't dimmed ambitions in the newsroom, however.

Last year, the paper drafted a "blueprint for progress," says Ben Bowers, executive editor and vice-president. The esult: greater attention to reader concerns -- reducing jumps, for instance, but reserving long stories for important and interesting topics that appeal to readers.

And new beats were defined, including "Good Reads," "Issues and Answers," "Parenting" and "Consumers."

While news staffers may not get paid as much as colleagues in New York or Washington, Bowers says, their cost of living is substantially lower. Although the paper does not have an official pay range, it sets salaries based on regular wage surveys done at other regional newspapers and at Greensboro area businesses.

"We don't have any problem attracting people," Bowers says.

The added payoff, he says, is Greensboro itself. "Its a beautiful, green city that's not too crowded." He cites as its attractions a lack of traffic congestion, clean and diversified industry and an impressive parks system. "We have almost as many golf courses as churches and synagogues."

The community's economic optimism seems to be reflected in its willingness to authorize civic improvements. In the past year or so, residents have approved multimillion-dollar bond issues for an arts center, street and coliseum improvements and housing for the poor.

Wendy Govier is resources manager at KRTN Graphics Network. Neal Pattison is assistant managing editor at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Society of Professional Journalists
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Title Annotation:Special Report: Journalism vs. the Economy; journalists' salaries
Author:Govier, Wendy; Pattison, Neal
Publication:The Quill
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:1475
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