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Jim McCloskey marks 20 years at The News Leader

Jim McCloskey is celebrating 20 years with The News Leader in Staunton, VA. Earlier this week, the paper did a write-up on his career with the newspaper.

Armed with some recognition and plenty of gumption, he blanketed several states with resumes.

He was politely rejected by most, and the few nibbles he did get didn’t pan out.

“That’s when I got my first lesson in the business of newspapers,” he said. Several papers responded that they would have loved to have a cartoonist, he said, but it was typically a luxury of metro papers with big budgets.

Frustrated and in a hurry to get a job so that he and his then-fiance, Lori, could marry, McCloskey retooled his resume and cover letter, mentioning his degree in graphics and fine arts and conveying that he would be happy to do pretty much any job.

In 1988, he took a job at The News Virginian in Waynesboro selling ads.

“I saw it as a way to get my foot in the door,” he said. “I would have taken a job mopping the floors at a newspaper. My plan was to do the job they asked me to do, and do cartoons on the side.”

But then-General Manager Harlan Phillips preferred McCloskey focus solely on selling ads, so he decided to interview at The News Leader with then-publisher Evarts W. Opie Jr.

“When I asked him if he would support both, there was a long pause, and he said something that made the clouds part and the sun shine: ‘We would be foolish if we didn’t utilize any talent that an employee had.'”

Community Comments

#1 Ted Dawson
January/29/2009
@ 11:44 am

It’s good to see an article about an editorial cartoonist that’s in a positive light! Nice to see the positive reader comments under the article. Glad Jim survived the recent layoffs at the paper and hope they continue to see his value.

#2 Mike Peterson
January/29/2009
@ 8:32 pm

?We would be foolish if we didn?t utilize any talent that an employee had.??

I’m sorry, but there’s just no room in modern newspapers for that kind of attitude.

#3 Rob Tornoe
January/30/2009
@ 8:45 am

When I moved from New Jersey to Delaware, I was working for Gannett, so I was interested in transferring from one paper to another.

The only job available in Delaware was an advertising design position, so I interviewed for it, had great references, and aced the test. The editor told me he wouldn’t hire me because I was TOO talented, and that I wouldn’t be in his department for long.

Way to run a business Gannett!

#4 Mike Peterson
January/30/2009
@ 5:37 pm

“The editor told me he wouldn?t hire me because I was TOO talented, and that I wouldn?t be in his department for long.”

Scary times are here. I was talking to my publisher/owner about the issue of retention — at small papers, we train’em and then they leave. It’s a fact of life, but we keep hoping that some talented kid will fall in love with the area, or fall in love with someone really dug in, and that we’ll be able to hang on to them. Anyway, I said something about hoping to retain our reporters and he said, “Where would they go?”

He was joking, but it was gallows humor and we didn’t laugh. There’s no such thing as “overqualified” in this market. I have no idea where the kids are going to find work.

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