As Megan mentioned, it has indeed been awhile. How have you been? How’s the family? We can skip past the formalities if you would like and get down to the nitty-gritty. Megan and I have both survived layoffs in journalism.
Megan summed up the emotional roller coaster that comes with learning about the dreaded layoff pretty well. Here’s my story:
I had been working with Digital First Media’s Thunderdome for three years. At the time, I was working with exceptionally talented people in many areas of focus – news, sports, data, video – you name it. I was doing it. I was focused on building relationships across the Digital First Media footprint, especially through the features desk. I helped build big projects, plan national live coverage to be aired across our 100+ websites, and I loved my job. I loved my team, and I still hold every single person I worked with in high regard. I also got to work from home in my pajamas on most days, so who doesn’t love that?
But then, rumors and news started trickling in. On April 1, Columbia Journalism Review posted this story to their online editions – announcing Digital First had planned layoffs. A huge ax was about to be dropped on Thunderdome, but at the time we only had speculation. Many of us had already begun looking for new jobs, considering the rumors we had been hearing. We needed a safety net. A parachute. The following day, Thunderdome leadership sat down with us – in person or via remote satellite, in my case – and explained we would be losing our jobs in either coming weeks or coming months. I was part of the first wave, with my last day being April 17.
I was heartbroken.
I was stunned.
I was nervous.
I was scared for myself and my amazing colleagues.
I couldn’t help but think back to November 2009 when I first started with the company. The people I met (including, but not limited to Megan) and how I had been with this amazing brand for so long and now it was all ending. Journal Register Company, and thus Digital First Media, took a chance on me right out of college when I was so green, and now it was all falling apart. I believed in Thunderdome and I still believe that had we been given a greater chance, we would have been incredibly successful and a beacon of hope for other large, yet struggling, print and digital organizations.
I was heartbroken. And I wasn’t the only one.
At times like these, it’s nice to be in an office when you can lean on the support of those around you, go for drinks after work to discuss the next steps and just be around people going through the same situations. I didn’t have that luxury. I was (and still am) living in Wyoming. Thousands of miles from my colleagues. I felt disconnected. And that didn’t make it any easier.
BUT, the people of Thunderdome are bad ass. Pardon my language – but they are. If I needed my resume checked out, I just had to send it over. A Facebook page was created to post new jobs and discuss where we are today. A Google group was created so we don’t lose touch. Everyone sent in their favorite “down and out” songs to keep the morale up and a Spotify playlist was made.
How did I survive my layoff? I had help. I had help surviving and that is critical.
It’s been about five months since I said goodbye to that job. I’m thankful every day I had that job and I met the people I have met and made the connections I’ve made. And I get to see a lot of them at the Online News Association conference in September!
So what am I doing now? Having fun and enjoying the summer. I am working in an industry not associated with journalism at the moment, which is OK. That doesn’t mean my journalism aspirations are over – not by a long shot. I’m getting married in a few weeks and it seemed silly to take on a full time position or new role, when everything about my life is somewhat changing. For now, I’m right where I need to be.