The news today that my former employer is slashing the size of the newsroom again — by 30 percent, or 90 full-time positions — drives home a rather obvious reality I’ve lived through since I left there eight months ago. As excited as I remain about developing a career beyond the newsroom, it’s also imperative for journalists, especially at newspaper companies, to get real about their prospects in the profession and beyond.
There will be another time for a post along those lines. For today, I’m just taking in what’s been announced at my old place. It’s staggering. Perhaps this is what major metropolitan dailies should have been bracing for all along, but it doesn’t make these departures any easier to absorb.
While I try to stay upbeat on this blog and do believe that in time non-newsroom journalists can find the same kind of challenging work and make a living wage that they once enjoyed in newsrooms, right now it’s hard to envision that. They’re stepping into an economic recession that’s deeper and the prospects for a quick recovery are gloomier than when I walked out into the Great Wide Open in September.
I’ve been plugging away at a number of possibilities and projects and know that I will get to a more stable place in my work and my life.
This can be discouraging at times, especially today when I see so many people I’ve known and worked with who are going through the same agony of deciding their futures in a heartbeat. You don’t sleep, you can’t eat, you’re unable to think about anything else but figuring out how the hell you’re gonna dog-paddle in the deep end of swirling waters you’ve never swum in before.
I’ve enjoyed the latter, but that’s just me. I’ve embraced the messiness and chaos, mainly because it’s inevitable. Some people I know who will be affected by this latest round of cuts are routine creatures who never imagined they would have to do anything else in their careers.
A former colleague who was shocked when I told her last summer that I was leaving said to me: “I’ve never known anything but newspapers.”
Well, neither had I, but she’s facing a similar situation today — and thank goodness it’s another buyout round and not layoffs. I hope she’s over the shock. I hope everyone there is.
For the most part I’m undeterred about the plans and ideas I have in mind. They’ll get me where I want to be, eventually. I’m happy to be where I am in so many ways.
But for the moment I’m just sad and heartbroken.