Hardly a week goes by that I don’t receive an email or a phone call from a friend saying he or she has been laid off from their newspaper job.
Newspapers are in crisis, panicking from falling circulation and dwindling dollars from advertising revenue. Many blame people like me — those who run web sites that provide community news and information. Others blame the saturation of media in our culture today — 24-hour news networks, web sites and a general decline in readership.
No one seems immune. Even the venerable New York Times and Washington Post are laying off reporters, photographers and production people. The Roanoke Times encouraged early buyouts last year and put several on the street.
Just this week, the Raleigh News & Observer announced it was cutting 70 jobs.
The layoffs usually affect folks my age, those trying to hang on a few more years for retirement. The newspapers know they can replace those with seniority (and salaries to match) with younger, cheaper labor. It’s a trend that punishes maturity and experience.
I was fortunate enough to work for newspapers in the glory days when jobs were plentiful and talent and skill were rewarded. I got out when I wanted to leave, not when some bean counter decided it was time for me to go. I was fortunate enough to work for other publishing outlets that appreciated my craft and paid accordingly. When I left newspapers, the free lance market proved lucrative.
That was then. This is now. Now, newspapers, magazines and publishers treat writers and photographers are treated like disposable chattel .
I’m fortunate enough to be semi-retired and able to work at my own pace and on my own terms. Others, unfortunately, are not. Sad times indeed.