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.