GrowSF’s job description for its new editor-in-chief of The Bold Italic is downright alarming.
On Thursday, December 8th, the San Francisco Chronicle broke the news that The Bold Italic was acquired by GrowSF — the contentious right-leaning PAC known for fiscally supporting conservative candidates for office. You already know how we feel about this acquisition.
We'll be relaunching The Bold Italic in the coming months, but first we need to hire an Editor in Chief to help run the publication and social media. If you love SF as much as writing, check out the job here: https://t.co/RpWbJTB2us
— GrowSF (@GrowSF) December 8, 2022
Shortly after that announcement, the political advocacy group, which was founded by Steven Buss and Sachin Agarwal, posted a job posting for editor-in-chief of the publication. (Over the weekend, it was reported and confirmed that The Bold Italic’s official Twitter account began unfollowing some past writers who’ve contributed to the publication.)
But back to the job posting: It’s wild and riddled with red flags. It offers the perfect stage for a Master Class on what to look out for when applying for any editorial role, especially those that call for freelance work.
Let’s begin, shall we? We’re going to have so much fun together!
First off, there’s the literal name of the role they’re hiring for: Part Time/Freelance Editor-In-Chief.
— Lauren Girardin (@girardinl) December 10, 2022
You’re either “part-time” or “freelance,” you can’t be both. Though not employed for a traditional 40hr work week, part-timers are still considered to be part of the agency and can be considered for employee benefits. Freelancers, on the other hand, are self-employed individuals contracted to perform specific tasks and generally exist as separate entities from the company or organization. Alas, they are not given the same employee perks found in more traditional employment circles, and the business they’ve been hired at can release them far easier; the same goes for the freelancer, as himself, herself, or themself can choose to leave with less fuss.
There’s the first red flag.
Next, your eyebrow should raise after reading positive content. Favorable and flattering writing is subjective. This connotes that the editor-in-chief will abide by a predetermined idea of what positivity entails — that mandate coming down from the publication’s owner, a political advocacy group. Red flag… as this butts heads against tried and fair journalism practices and a dedication to transparency.
Now, get ready for your pearls to get clutched after reading this bullet point found in the “Qualifications” section: We don’t want to tell you what to do; you will need to seek out work and drive our mission.
The very idea of being hired for any job implies there’s an understood responsibility that those who’ve employed a person will assist them in their role — granted, within the realms of acceptability, understanding, and reality. This description negates that… all while setting up the perfect stage for the employer to not claim initial responsibility for any work sought out by the EIC. Yikes.
Soon after that worrying line reads perhaps one even more problematic: We’ll rely on you to do whatever needs to be done for The Bold Italic to succeed. This is dangerous. We can’t understate this enough, especially in this specific instance regarding a part-time/freelance role (again, unclear which of the two it actually is).
Whatever needs to be done implies that the hired EIC could need to perform tasks outside the kind of expertise they were hired for to fill the role. But more importantly: The affronted ask suggests that the hire might conduct work hours that exceed their contracted or agreed-upon terms. It’s a situation rife with employee exploitation. Proceed with caution.
The following set of red flags undulate from a grab-bag of lexical choices: The use of the word “positive” again, “light-hearted,” and, most troubling, “non-political.” We’ve already waxed on the first of the three, so we’re set there. While the other two, “light-hearted and “non-political,” on their own aren’t worth tilting your head over, we must remember the organization now behind The Bold Italic — a political advocacy group. The relationship with its new owner makes The Bold Italic inherently political. That’s merely a matter of fact.
And last, but surely not least, the final red flag flashing in the wind is hoisted when reading this requirement in the “Social media and online management” section: Ensure contributors are productive and happy.
Yes, it’s one’s duty as an editor of a publication to ensure contributors are drafting work in a timely manner. It’s not, however, their role to provide and secure their happiness. That’s a maddening task — and something we’ve never seen in an editorial job description before. Like, ever.
May this 850-word teardown of a terrible job posting give you insights into some potential red flags to look for when scouring Indeed or LinkedIn. Omg… What a fun and informal time we all had!
All images used are screenshots from GrowSF’s job description of its Part Time/Freelance Editor-In-Chief found at growsf.org/careers