On Thursday, Sept. 1, Development Editor Matthew Putzulu and Editor in Chief and President Tomer Ovadia answered questions about the Daily Cal application process.
Below is a transcript of the live chat.
Matthew Putzulu: Hey everyone—Welcome to our special “Ask the Daily Cal” regarding hiring!
My name is Matthew Putzulu, and I am the development editor. I’ll be happy to answer any questions regarding applications, the Daily Cal, or whatever else you would like to know.
Matthew Putzulu: First, let’s wait until our scheduled beginning of 5:30 pm. If you have any questions, feel free to start sending them in.
Matthew Putzulu: And, let’s begin!
Matthew Putzulu: I’m joined by Editor in Chief and President Tomer Ovadia
Tomer Ovadia: Hey everybody. Let’s get started. Please submit your questions and we’ll post them one-by-one and answer them.
Comment From Caila: Hi, I’m polishing an application for the “Sex on Tuesday’s” column. I didn’t get an opportunity to attend one of your recruitment meetings. I wanted to ask, how much humor is appropriate to use in this particular column?
Matthew Putzulu: Hi Caila—Thanks for joining us
Matthew Putzulu: It’s totally up to you how much humor you want to include.
Matthew Putzulu: Over the years, we’ve had Sex on Tuesday writers who aimed for a more serious tone, and others who wnt for the more lighthearted, comedic approach.
Matthew Putzulu: And as far as the vulgarity goes, that’s also up to you—for similar reasons. Vulgarity can be a slightly shocking way of grabbing reader attention and making your columns stand out—but too much can alienate the reader
Matthew Putzulu: Try looking at old columns at our website—www.dailycal.org. If you want a broader perspective, see what other authors wrote at www.archive.dailycal.org
Comment From Amy: Hello! I have a question about the application: who will be reading our applications (i.e. to whom should we address the cover letter)?
Tomer Ovadia: Good question. The editors and managers for the respective departments to which you apply will be reviewing your application materials.
Matthew Putzulu: Hi Guest—we’ll get to your question next.
Tomer Ovadia: So if you apply to be a photographer as first preference and news reporter second preference, our photo editor will evaluate your application first before it goes on to our news editors.
Tomer Ovadia: Feel free to address your cover letter to them. Contact information is available on our about page. http://www.dailycal.org/about/
Comment From Guest: Hi! Just to clarify, what are all the components for applying to be a columnist? I was told something different from the requirements posted on the Daily Californian web page so I just want to clear that up. Thanks!
Matthew Putzulu: There has been some confusion regarding the columnist position requirements, as our opinion page editors misspoke when detailing the requirements. The requirements are what you find on the apply website—two 850 word columns, both on the same theme if you’re applying to a theme. See http://apply.dailycal.org/2011/07/columnist/ for more details.
Comment From Rahul: I haven’t written a published article since high school (3 years ago). Is there specific avenues you can suggest to get placements now to have in an application next semester?
Tomer Ovadia: I can take that one.
Tomer Ovadia: I was rejected from the Daily Cal my first semester freshman year, and spent that semester at the Berkeley Political Review. I used the clips I got from that in applying again the following semester and got in!
Tomer Ovadia: In general though, I’d recommend working wherever interests you and somewhere that’ll give you clips that are applicable to what you want to do.
Tomer Ovadia: I was interested in politics, so I did BPR. But if you are interested in something else, go for it! Your clips won’t have such a strong effect on whether or not you’re accepted such that you have to change what you do based on what would impress us most. It’s not worth it.
Matthew Putzulu: And just to clarify for Guest and the other columnist applicants—the application also must include a multimedia proposal, and an idea about how to improve the Sex on Tuesday blog if you are applying for Sex on Tuesday. Again, see our apply website for more details
Comment From Caila: Okay, good…that’s what I was aiming for with my selective use of the word “fuck” and that’s for the link. Last question, just to clarify…it’s okay to tackle the column with a story telling approach?
Matthew Putzulu: Calia: storytelling is often a very effective way of engaging readers with a usually taboo and divisive subject like Sex on Tuesday. Again, I encourage you to read past Sex on Tuesday authors and see how they each developed their own writing strategies.
Matthew Putzulu: Caila*—sorry about that.
Comment From Rahul: If I missed both information sessions, is there somewhere I can find general information about what was said, aside from this page’s FAQ?
Tomer Ovadia: At the information sessions, the heads of each of the departments gave brief explanations of what working for us would be like. They also took questions from prospective applicants.
Tomer Ovadia: Because most of the sessions consisted of break-out sessions in which prospective applicants spoke in small groups to the editors and managers, there was a lot said and it all varied from department to department.
Tomer Ovadia: If you’re looking for information regarding particular positions, we’d be happy to help with that. Let us know!
Tomer Ovadia: If you have more questions, please type them! We’ll get to them in a bit.
Comment From Guest: Would it be okay to use a satirical news clip (like the format found in The Onion) as a format in applying to be a columnist? Or would it behoove me to use a more traditional columnist format?
Matthew Putzulu: Hi Guest: I would encourage you to keep to more traditional columnist formats—columns are intended to stand out as distinct from the news coverage—not just in subject matter and coverage, but also by the way they are written. For example, many people turn to columns as a way to vicariously relive others’ experiences and impressions. A fake news story rarely sticks with readers, and it would have to be exceptional to hold readers’ attention.
Comment From Sophia: Apps are due tomorrow at 5pm right?
Tomer Ovadia: Yep! If you have a follow-up question, please let us know.
Comment From Guest: About how competitive is the columnist position?
Matthew Putzulu: The competitiveness of the columnist position is something that fluctuates from semester to semester, but it always remains one of our most popular positions
Matthew Putzulu: Generally, we hire one columnist per day — but we’re always looking for applicants who break the mold and have creative ideas
Comment From Steve: Hey, I was wondering if it’s worth applying for the illustrator job if I have only ever done drawing as something of a hobby.
Matthew Putzulu: For example, in the fall, we alternated two Sex on Tuesday applicants —but in the spring, we only hired five columnists (one for each day)
Tomer Ovadia: Hey Steve. My answer is a strong absolutely yes! There are so many students who apply with no prior experience at all who become excellent at what they do.
Tomer Ovadia: That’s not to say that experience doesn’t help, but it’s not the only determinant of a strong staff member. We need passion and a willingness to learn just as much.
Tomer Ovadia: Having done something as a hobby brings a unique perspective that could be very useful to us.
Tomer Ovadia: As an example, I joined the news department with absolutely no experience before then as a news reporter. But I was willing to learn and was very passionate about news.
Tomer Ovadia: So, yes! Please do apply.
Comment From Sophia: I also don’t have any published materials since high school. Would you recommend that I wait and apply after I’ve racked up some new experience or should I write some samples and apply anyway?
Matthew Putzulu: Sophia: My philosophy is that there’s no harm in applying—you won’t be penalized for not having experience, and at the very least this gives you practice for future applications!
Tomer Ovadia: In fact, many of our applicants are in that exact same situation. Many clips we receive are from high school. We understand that’s what many of you have and it’s completely fine with us.
Tomer Ovadia: I had clips from my high school both times I applied.
Comment From Guest: Could you clarify the multimedia proposal for me? Essentially, is this proposal just for suggesting ways of complementing our columns through pictures, videos, etc.?
Matthew Putzulu: Guest: You’re correct about the proposal. However, keep in mind that the traditional practice of tacking on videos and podcasts results in the supplementary material rarely being read or viewed. Columnists are the faces of the Berkeley student body — how can you make multimedia a core component of your public presence?
Comment From Guest: Also, about how many people are applying to the columnist position currently?
Tomer Ovadia: We’ll find out tomorrow at 5pm!
Comment From Guest: About how long do the clips for the Clog position have to be?
Matthew Putzulu: Read some of the existing posts at clog.dailycal.org and use them as a guide.
Matthew Putzulu: They tend to vary depending on how much you have to say—some issues prompt more discussion, some less.
Matthew Putzulu: Write as much as you think is appropriate for the issues that you’re writing on—figuring out exactly how much is part of the art of clogging!
Comment From Michelle: Hello! This is my first time applying, so apologies if this is an obvious question … Will we get feedback about our application? Like, if we’re not selected, will we get a few tips on what to improve on, etc?
Tomer Ovadia: We generally do not give feedback to applicants who are not accepted, simply because we receive many applications and don’t have the resources to do so. But if you feel you have a unique circumstance, feel free to request feedback by emailing [email protected]
Comment From Guest: If I theoretically got into the columnist position, would I have to re-apply for next semester?
Comment From Guest: Do “incumbent” columnists have to re-apply each semester?
Matthew Putzulu: Yes, incumbent columnists must reapply and compete against everybody else for their slot. They even have to submit new sample columns!
This ensures a fair application process—no one gets special treatment.
Comment From Guest: Hi, a quick question about the marketer position. About how many marketers is the Daily Cal hiring?
Tomer Ovadia: Because this is a new position, we are hiring only a handful this semester. I anticipate that it will be competitive, but that shouldn’t deter you at all from applying! However, we do recommend that if that’s your first preference, you list account executive as your second preference. Skills you gain as an account executive will help you prepare to be a marketer.
Comment From Sophia: How many Arts & Entertainment reporters do you typically hire per semester?
Tomer Ovadia: It depends greatly on many factors, including how many people apply and the staffing needs of the arts department.
Comment From Guest: Can you explain to me the multimedia suggestions requirement of the columnist application? Thanks!
Matthew Putzulu: Until recently, multimedia was very often forgotten about by columnists—writers were concerned with producing their column, and A/V accompaniments such as podcasts or videos were often forgotten about. The purpose of requiring you to think about multimedia when applying sis to try and counter that mindset—to get you to consider how your thoughts and your ideas could best be expanded upon and complemented by something beyond just their collection of words
Just write down what comes to mind—how could your ideas best be expressed through new media?
Matthew Putzulu: Also check out what we wrote earlier for more information.
Comment From Guest: Do people from last semester have to reapply to be the same position?
Tomer Ovadia: Generally, no. But it depends on the position (columnists for example).
Comment From Guest: I was wondering about the illustrator/cartoonist positions — do we have to submit both a paper application and an online one or just a paper app?
Comment From Yian: For applying to the illustrator/editorial cartoonist positions, do we only submit a paper app or should we also do the online one?
Tomer Ovadia: We’ll answer your questions until about 6:30pm, so if you have some left over, please post them soon!
Matthew Putzulu: This semester, we’ve made a point to differentiate between the illustrator and editorial cartoonist positions in order to emphasize the importance of each one—you can only be one of the two if you like
Matthew Putzulu: Unfortunately—I’m sorry for the inconvenience—this means that right now one is a hard application and one is an online application
Matthew Putzulu: So, if you’re applying for both positions, you have to submit a hard copy application for the illustrator position and an online application for the editorial cartoonist position.
Comment From Guest: Is the Clog position typically less competitive than the columnist position?
Matthew Putzulu: Yes—the Clog typically hires more applicants than the columnist position
Matthew Putzulu: However, the competitiveness of a position shouldn’t dissuade you from applying—that’s one of the reasons we use the first/second preference system.
Matthew Putzulu: I encourage you to apply for both if you’re interested in both!
Comment From Guest: Do you have to have two preferences to apply? Or for time interests, can we only apply to one position?
Tomer Ovadia: You can absolutely apply to only one position if that’s what you prefer. On the online application you should list your preference twice, both as the first preference and second preference. Our system will recognize that as meaning you only have one preference.
Tomer Ovadia: If submitting a hard application, leave your second preference blank.
Matthew Putzulu: Well, it appears that the flow of questions has tapered off. Thanks, everyone, for showing up, and I hope we addressed all of your questions or concerns. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at [email protected]
Matthew Putzulu: Applications are due tomorrow at 5:00 pm—don’t forget!
Tomer Ovadia: Goodnight and good luck!