Monday, November 10, 2008

Layoffs.

I don't write much about my employment or my industry because -- well -- frankly, it's depressing.

I'm a journalist. I paid lots of money to the University of Kansas and have worked for a newspaper non-stop since I was 16 in order to hone my skills. For someone my age, I have lots of experience.

But I have no experience compared to the 16 people laid off at The Kansas City Star today. I love The Star. I learned so much there when I served as a intern three times and a staffer for about a year in the Johnson County bureau. I was able to do great things, because I worked with and for great people.

But The Star is now a shadow of its former self. Many of my mentors have been given their walking papers. Several of my former co-workers, people I've shared beers and bylines with, are also out the door. The remaining people I know are just lucky to survive the FOURTH round of terminations this year.

It's happening at smaller papers, too. The Joplin Globe laid off several members of the newsroom staff recently. And my current employer is reportedly getting ready to drop the ax for the second time since August. My co-workers are taking stock of their importance to the company and filling out applications on the side, talking about going back to school and saving what little money they can.

The talk starts to turn co-workers against each other. You start internally betting who among you will be eliminated. You make mental notes, notice when the bosses are huddling, try to figure this all out. You make lists of people who surely will be "let go" before you, then you damn yourself for thinking that maybe you'll be spared.

Because, really, what this all boils down to is this: None of us will be spared. Newspapers are on their way out. It's just a matter of time before everyone gets their daily news consumption on their BlackBerrys and iPhones. All newspapers are left to do is survive until their time has come, pick up the pieces and retrofit themselves as something new.

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