Perks of the profession
One perk of becoming a professional journalist at a small- or medium-size paper is that you get to work longer than eight hours a day and more than 40 hours a week without getting overtime pay (much of the time). It's an unwritten rule of the trade, with the bosses usually offering compensatory time for the overtime worked. But if your job demands you work more than 40 hours a week already, it's tough to find the time to take off - especially when you're trying to make an impact so you get on with a better paper.
Most reporters accept the low pay and long hours as another part of paying their dues. Half of the job is about getting good experience and clips to move on to better things. But as papers continue to squeeze salaries and cut positions, as larger papers continue to shrink and as newsroom self-loathing increases, I have to wonder whether this wink-and-a-nod arrangement will fall apart. After all, why agree to take comp time you're never going to use if you see no light at the end of the tunnel?
This is a long lead-in to this story in The Times Leader in Pennsylvania. Looks like a disgruntled former employee at a competing paper called the feds about alleged overtime abuses. I doubt anything will come of the inquiry, as this isn't an administration that seems to excited about enforcing labor standards.
(Incidentally, I once asked a class action lawyer why no one ever went after newspapers for such abuses. He told me lawyers only go after companies with money.)