As first reported on this channel a while back, the Washington Post is looking to undercut its existing reporting staff by creating a kinda junior reporter position.

The salary for these positions is in the range of $34,000, well below the starting minimum salary of a Post reporter and less than half of the newsroom average salary.

Check out the memo, though (it’s cut and pasted below).

It states that the new reporters will be covering community issues and the like. OK, fine. It says the work of the “community journalists” will feed into the paper’s local Extras. Again, fine.

But then it essentially emasculates the position and all those who may fill it: “While there may be occasions in which they work for the daily paper, they will seldom cover stories on larger regional and national issues.”

Talk about inspiration! Gee, let me go right ahead and apply for one of these hot jobs.

The backstory behind that carefully selected language stems from contractual considerations. Post management wants to sneak this position into the rotation without making it subject to the minimum salary requirements of the paper’s newsroom union, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. The line about seldom covering big stories reads like a legal maneuver to get around union protections. And perhaps a pretty clever one at that.

The announcement comes at a time of high anxiety at the Post. All week long, the place has been buzzing about what sort of cost-cutting initiatives may be in the pipeline. No word just yet on that front.

Metro News Openings for New Community Journalists Positions

We are very pleased to announce that The Post has created a new position to help us expand and improve coverage of local and community news in the Washington region. Employees in the new posts, called Community Journalists, will focus on writing stories for the Extras, and on multimedia work on local and community topics. They will report directly to Extras Editors. While there may be occasions in which they work for the daily paper, they will seldom cover stories on larger regional and national issues.

We are currently looking to hire several Community Journalists for suburban bureaus and possibly the District. We are looking for people with a strong interest and expertise in local affairs, a lot of energy and drive, and eagerness to learn. Some experience in journalistic reporting and writing is preferable but not required. It would also be a plus to live in the county or other jurisdiction that one covers. These positions would be a natural fit for some Editorial Aides who have already shown promise as writers.

We plan to fill these positions internally.