UPDATE: Its been brought to my attention that this post is a little confusing. I DID NOT lose my job this week. I am still a full time employee at the paper. This post covers what happened to OTHER staffers at the paper this week.
After continued downsizing, furlough days, wage freezes and circulation declines, Landmark Community News Inc. was forced to offer buyouts, early retirements and reductions in hours to staff members from the newspapers I work for. These staff members came from many departments including editorial. Two staff members from classified will take the severance package and leave the company next Friday. Another staff member from the advertising department was given the option of a buyout or to have his/her wages reduced to the current rate for ad reps. That person chose to take the severance and will leave in January. And finally one staff member from the editorial department will have their hours reduced, but still maintain benefits, and one has chosen to take the severance package but will continue to work until the end of the year.
We had mostly been unaffected by the drastic changes that had come to newsrooms until last year. In 2009, we were told that we would need to take 5 unpaid days off and that there would be a wage and hiring freeze until further notice. These policies were par for the course. It was happening across the print media industry. Recently we were told that in 2010 there would again be 5 unpaid days off and another hiring and wage freeze. We were also told that this would keep people from being laid off at least until the second or third financial quarter. I know things were bad but I can’t help but feel that this was a little deceiving.
The editorial department is already a bare-bones operation. I have a hard time believing that we can make cuts and still continue to put out a quality paper. Maybe no one cares about quality anymore. It seems that cheap and quantity are the new king and queen. The print media is hemorrhaging highly skilled, experienced staff right now. If things continue to be this bad I have a feeling that I will be looking for a new job in less than a year. I love what I do and quite honestly can’t see myself doing anything else. That will surely pose a problem in the near future. Any one need an assistant or second shooter?
The only thing for certain right now is the instability of the industry and that’s a pretty scary thing. We put this off for as long as we could but I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.
DISCLAIMER: I purposely left out the names of the people involved. Many of them are moving on to non-media industries and do not plan on coming back. This editorial/blog post/whatever I wrote does not represent the attitudes or beliefs of Landmark Community News Inc. It is solely my opinion and is not a statement from the company. Do not reproduce any of the content above without my permission. You all know what copyrights are and how they work, don’t mess around.