Thursday, February 19, 2009

A victim of the newspaper industry

It has been far too long since I've posted here. The ethics policy at the paper where I work requires having the editor's permission if you're going to have a public blog, and before I could get permission, the editor resigned.

But, thanks to the economic crisis and the state of the newspaper industry, I am no longer employed at said paper. I was laid off today. We actually were informed of the impending layoffs about three weeks ago and I knew that because I'm the newest person in my position, I had a big target on my back. Through a rather long process, the union members agreed to some concessions involving the 401K and holiday pay and that cut the number of layoffs, as did the generosity of the people in the newsroom, many of whom volunteered to reduce hours and/or take unpaid time off to try to save jobs. It worked -- I lost my job, but I'm the only one in the newsroom to go. It's depressing and I'm freaked out, but I'm happy that all the reporters get to stay. We have some great people who do excellent work and frankly, the paper needs them.

Truthfully, the three weeks of not knowing whether I was going to be able to stay was way worse than getting the news. I didn't tell many people about the layoffs when we first found out because I didn't want to jinx it. But honestly, I'm relieved that I finally just know.
So tomorrow I will go to an unemployment office for the first time in my life and hope that the check will be enough to live on until I find a new job and move out of this town. I was given a severance that's more generous than what the union contract required, so there will be enough money in my savings account to pay for the move. I won't be staying here -- there aren't any other media jobs (at least not the type I want to do) and I didn't want to be here forever anyway -- but it will do until I find a new job.

The thing that makes me sad is that while I have gone through phases of questioning what to do with my life, nothing feels as right as being a working journalist. It's an industry I am passionate about and one that I believe is essential to the maintenance of the entire democratic system. It's hard to even consider leaving that behind. People will say "You have to be flexible and look in other industries," but this is something that I love and something that I want to do. I may have to be flexible about what type of journalism to do, but leaving media behind in general is not an option. If nothing else, I went very far in debt for a master's degree and damnit, I'm going to stay in the field that degree is in.

On to update my resume and think about possible freelance opportunities.

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