TheStreet is an OK place for a young reporter interested in financial journalism and in getting a chance to develop a portfolio of clips for a career in business news. There may also be opportunities for mid-level editors interested in working with small teams of reporters or freelance contributors to have some autonomy in overseeing a beat or content section.
It's less clear whether it's a place to stay for too long, or frankly, where one can be fairly certain the job will exist for long.
Pro: There is a lot of freedom to pursue topics of interest within business/stock market reporting, and report in a variety of formats -- breaking news, news analysis, opinion, blogging, video reporting. The newsroom does not have a backbreaking atmosphere which will keep you up at 3 am with stress thinking about the next morning or last story filed, though if you are a Type A go-getter, you can make your own opportunity to go full throttle.
Cons about that pro: Part of the freedom comes as a result of some negatives, lots of layoffs leaving too few editors to provide training and mentoring; a top layer of editorial management that seems disinterested in the "on the ground" reporters ( e.g. the top editor for the NY newsroom isn't even located in NY); a growing reliance on freelance contributors that makes the newsroom strategy unclear longer-term; a business model that is broken (but whose model isn't broken in online journalism?). The broken model has led to constant changes in strategy that can be frustrating for journalists.
Pro: good exposure. TheStreet stories will turn up in the main search engines (Yahoo, Google) get picked up by well known partners (CNBC), and the company has an active management effort to increase exposure for its content.
Cons about that pro: The company has bounced around from one strategy to the next in trying to increase exposure, and sometimes it feels more like there is an "air of desperation" about being heard in the hyper competitive online news space than there is an effective and viable long-term strategy. Sometimes the editorial content seems a little bit too shrill as a result (which is a well-traveled complaint about the company). Also, it's unclear where exactly within financial journalism the company will/can make its mark. It can't (and never has been able to) compete with the wires on breaking news. It (sort of) wants to be and has always been like Motley Fool/Seeking Alpha, and (sort of) wants to be a blog and "the loudest person in the room", and meanwhile be a personal finance site and affluent investor/consumer site. Being really good at one thing might be better if that one thing could be identified.
In terms of management strategy, sometimes it seems like management is less interested in quality journalism as the arbiter of success than in seeing itself on CNBC or some other network, as if just getting 30 seconds as a talking head in a CNBC segment or to the top of the search results for a day will rescue a broken business model. That and "popularity contests" like it are a viable part of a strategy, but far from a comprehensive strategy.
Pros: newsroom staff is inclusive and supportive. The relatively small in-house reporting team is solid, focused, supportive of colleagues and generally good eggs in what can be a world of financial journalism often ripe with petty jealousies and poor office camaraderie.
Cons about that pro: there have been so many layoffs and leavings in the newsroom over the past few years the freelance contributors to the site now far outweigh the actual in-house staff. The company boasts an editorial team of 180 people in press releases, but the actual newsroom is approx. a dozen people (and remember, the top editor for our NY newsroom isn't even located in NY). There has been a bit of frustration among newsroom staff due to all the changes and a sense of uncertainty about the future does crop up from time to time, though doesn't have to interfere with getting the job done on a daily basis or developing your skills and portfolio.
Cons without any pros: Management and HR often seem tone deaf. Management has changed over years several times and talks a big game about how much they care about quality journalism, but it's often hard to see that in practice (though it's something that is always easier said than done).
Case in point: after a recent change in the CEO office, the first thing the new CEO had handed out to us was a photocopy of a primer on using Google+. As if using Google + would change everything for us as journalists. This after years of being judged primarily on how many page hits our stories received.
Case in point: the company recently brought in a new editor-in-chief, who seems to be a nice person, knowledgeable, approachable and interested in listening to newsroom staff (when he has the time). The company has positioned him more as an executive in the newsroom than an actual editor. While this may make sense for an editor-in-chief at a large news organization, it doesn't do much for the small in-house newsroom staff at TheStreet (especially when the top in-house editor below the EIC isn't even in NY). Though our previous editor-in-chief was probably too hands on, so pick your poison...
Human Resources seems better at misusing and losing people than bringing in talent to support existing newsroom staff. If anything, HR does more (sometimes by doing nothing) to demoralize journalists than provide any incentives for us to feel like we are top priority for the company.
Compensation and benefits are mediocre at best, but for a company that loses money quarter after quarter, that shouldn't be surprising. Though it can be frustrating watching all of the thousands of dollars going out the door weekly in catered breakfasts and lunches for management conference room events, or hearing stories about freelancers getting paid a lot more than in-house staff, or when FedEx delivers the package of iPads for each member of the board of directors, all this while newsroom salaries barely budge and bonuses, if any, have been relatively small. The company was once much more generous in benefits and could be again if its finances improve, but that is a big "if."
Finally, please don't think as a reporter at TheStreet Jim Cramer will know who you are. I have been with the company for several years and we just had our first-ever meeting between Cramer and the editorial team, most of whom he did not know by name. If you are one of the video reporters that he does interviews you will have a rapport, but otherwise, it's possible to work at TheStreet for years without ever exchanging a hello with Mr. Mad Money. You shouldn't care about that as a journalist, but if you do care, don't be disappointed later.