This is no fun to write …

During the last days of my trip to Maryland and Pennsylvania, I got an unsettling email – another journo friend of mine had gotten the pink slip.

At the time of his layoff, he was covering one of the Big 4 sports and, just as importantly, was/is a journo who embraced technology and social media on his beat and used it not only as a way to break news but to connect with his paper’s readers and to build a following as a multimedia reporter, not just a newspaper reporter.

And this is sad, because I really tried to follow his lead in doing that as a beat writer. Now, he and I are trading notes on what to do in, as I jokingly call it, “the afterlife.”

I’m not clear on the methodology that each newspaper or company uses to determine who stays and who goes. The protocol at my former newspaper, per the union contract: the person with the least seniority is the first to go. That was me, with only 7 1/2 years at the paper. But I can’t speak for other newspapers, and this isn’t any sort of indictment against labor unions.

However, it bothers me that relative youngsters being told to clean out their desks and that their services are no longer needed by their news outlets. We’re not just salary dumps or numbers in your books. The relative youngsters are some of the ones who are willing to embrace and adapt to and even introduce new ideas and technologies. They bring a fresh perspective and, hopefully at the same time, enough experience to contribute and to reinforce that perspective.

And they – including me – are being let go. I have a personal stake in what I’m about to say, and I hate to say it, especially given the role that newspapers have played in the history of our society and in each community. But newspapers are further mortgaging their futures by letting the youngsters go.


8 thoughts on “This is no fun to write …

  1. Anyone can bring a fresh perspective and embrace new technology, no matter their age. But when a company is unwilling to invest in technology, create a framework for change and ensure that their employees are trained to make that transition, the company, and its employees, will fail, no matter the industry. Disruptive innovation has changed our industry, but it has created many opportunities to do things differently. Sadly, many in our industry, whether they are relatively new hires or more experienced professionals, are not being given that opportunity and are being laid off.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jim. The other thing that’s hurting the industry – the bottom line. How can any company, without capital, make that kind of investment in the hopes of advancing/bettering the product and the people creating the product? Instead, employees are being told to leave, companies are shrinking and the workload is being passed around to other people. It’s counter-productive.

      1. I think the biggest problem is that new papers are being replaced by the on line media. People don’t get “as much” of their news from the papers anymore.

        That’s kind of sad because the newspaper is still a good way to read the news but I think the hurry to get a story out there and put it on the internet and TV puts a damper on the newspaper business.

        Its sad to see these media people losing their jobs seems like you read about it almost weekly. Your blog is awesome I have been reading it the past few weeks.

  2. You and others like you are the future of this country. It is sad that as baby boomers our children and our childrens’ children are paying a price for our self caused economy. Your professionalism, dedication and creative contributions should be recognized, applauded and indeed! preserved. Your former employers are fools.

  3. Mme Lenzi, at the end of the day,managers are only concerned with productivity. They’re going to use the old metric to measure it. Everyone our age, who comes in with a new model for success, needs to sell it–and themselves–to the people above them. I mean no disrespect to your colleague, as I am sure that the old model is based on seniority rather than “selling themselves”. That having been said, I think it would be wise for any young journalist to point out what they do for the institution beyond the traditional metrics–ie, all the stuff you talked about–to convince the higher-ups that there is something more to them than simple metrics. Our ability to remain competitive lies in our ability to both communicate our value in the traditional modality while convincing the Old Guard thafuture.t we hold the key to the

    1. Jason, that’s nice and dandy and idealistic … but have you ever worked at a newspaper?

      Managers should not only be concerned about productivity but also about optimizing their employees strengths in the name of productivity. Yet when heads are being chopped off in the name of salary dumps, it’s counterproductive. The less people to do the work, the more work there is for the people left. And how much of that work gets done well … or just gets done, period?

      1. Sorry if I came off as a prick earlier. And no, I’ve never worked at a newspaper, but I’ve seen similar stuff happen in a lot of industries.

        For the record, I agree with you whole-heartedly. I wasn’t saying what managers SHOULD do–I was trying to say what they DO do. They’re putting the cart before the horse.

        I think they’re so afraid that their old institution will die off that they’re canning their own future. And I think it’s stupid. But their myopic, fear-driven, narcissistic head-up-assery ends up being OUR problem (and that’s something I have experienced.)

        That was all I was trying to say–and I certainly didn’t mean any disrespect.

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