Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reporter malingers over library director quit reason

Back last century, when the public notices for jobs in the "classified" section of the local newspaper actually directed seekers to actual jobs, I answered one of those very advertisements. I'd answered a lot of them during my searches for some way to supplement the meager allowance grudgingly doled to me by my "36.5 hrs a wk" employer at the time. I helped myself to other income opportunities as well, including an even less attractive position as "copy editor" for a weekly rag.
For the thankfully brief period when I deigned to contribute to the final throes of their attempt at alternative press, I was required to -- without giving away ancient arcane print layout procedures -- count how many letters (and spaces) I could allot a story and devise a headline according to those specifications. I felt that it was my obligation to understand the gist of the story and craft a succinct and appealing come-on.
For instance: If I were given this particular story (from Curt Brown of the New Bedford Standard-Times)

DARTMOUTH — Four months into her tenure as library director, Jennifer Inglis has abruptly resigned, effective Aug. 27.
"I just have found something else closer to home," the 37-year-old librarian said Tuesday in an interview with The Standard-Times.
She declined to disclose her new position or explain her reasons for leaving the $70,000-a-year job as head of the Dartmouth libraries.
Her formal letter of resignation, which was accepted by the Board of Library Trustees at an emergency meeting late Tuesday afternoon, also didn't shed any light on her reasons for leaving.
The resignation letter, which was shown to The Standard-Times, only stated she was resigning and that she had accepted a position closer to home.

...I italicized what I felt was pertinent. I also would have also assigned the same headline -- without the "abrupt" part, which seems subjective -- that was in the paper:
Dartmouth library director abruptly resigns
Except for the fact that our author seems to be fixated on the former new library director not giving "a reason" for her resignation. He hammers away at this "reason for leaving" thing, never accepting Ms. Inglis' clearly stated reason for the breakup: Because she "found something closer to home."
Which he himself reveals in the secoind paragraph of the story.
Reporters -- and journalism professors -- will tell you "never to trust a fast answer." But really. How much "light" does one need to "shed" about a resignation without violating accepted tenets of professional courtesy?
It is a different world than it was twenty-five years ago when I could work at a "career job" and at any number of concurrent "bills jobs." The jobs aren't there now, and anyone who can find a better position -- closer to home, with better benefits, better pay -- has no obligation to be jealously loyal to one job, one employer, or even one career.
Or to explain "reasons for leaving" to one reporter. A reporter who, it might seem, is the only one in town who's even asking.If I stumbled and I busted my what-you-may-call-it, I could lie on your floor unnoticed 'til my body had turned to carrion. Any statement for the press?


Karie said...

This was the first news article of the day to really annoy me. Thanks for writing this piece.

Plus, S-T - "stop picking on Dartmouth!" :P

PJ said...

I understand that some Dartmouth supporters of "Rachel Brown for Congress" didn't like the "Progressive Book Club" selections that somebody keeps donating to the library and Inglis was tired of answering their barrels of Larouchemail.

Cassandra said...

I have to be pipe up here, though, because she had a directorship at Whitman that she left voluntarily for the Dartmouth position (she used to be at Fairhaven very briefly as a Youth Services Librarian)--so why even bother going to Dartmouth if it wasn't quite the right fit? It was a lot of effort on her part if she wasn't willing to move closer and didn't want the commute. Extra money probably doesn't off-set the time and gas...

The speculation of the paper is that it has to do with the increased contribution to healthcare costs--didn't she check this out before saying yes?

From what I see after some 'Net research,she seems to have a history of job-hopping, which raises some warning bells in me as a librarian and a former hiring manager. It probably reflects more about her than it does about Dartmouth, that the grass is always greener or she needs to keep changing jobs to stay motivated. Directorships are probably not a good thing for her in that case.

On the other hand, a lot of us librarians in the area just instinctively know we haven't the stomach to take on the directorship there because of money woes in the town and evidence that the library will always be 'shat upon' when the budget axe falls [cf.]. Same goes for New Bedford PL. Fairhaven has a separate private fund set up by HH Rogers that keep it from being held hostage by the politicians in town--that's the directorship we'd all want if Carolyn Longworth ever left it. Which she won't until it's via the ol' pine box, like her predecessor. And I don't blame her.

Hope I can stay at Titleist as long as possible. It is amazing to find people who have been there 15-20-25-30 years and are still passionate about what they do.

Carol Murchie (not the other Carol)

PJ said...

During Dartmouth's last fabulously contentious Prop 2½ Override "battle," the one thing each side seemed to agree upon was: "Liberry must stay open." (The side that one just figured it should stay open without help from them.)