Frumpfighter

Posts Tagged ‘layoffs

What a crazy year it has been in the world of journalism. Newspapers all across the country are struggling; some are even shutting down.

My world has not been immune to this disruption. A year ago, my husband, Jeff, was relieved of his duties as editor and publisher of the weekly newspaper we created in 2005. It was done for “business decisions” (read philosophical differences).

When Jeff and I were all but thrown out of the building last year, the duties of carrying on the day-to-day operation were handed to our friend, Tom Lundvall. In the beginning of the business, Tom was our computer wizard. Eventually, Jeff hired him as sports editor and general reporter. He learned everything from scratch and did a tremendous job.

This week Tom was let go due to economic conditions. Jeff and I appreciate everything he did for us and wish him and his family the best in the future.

Here’s a tribute Jeff wrote to his former co-worker and forever friend:

http://watchingwheels.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/tribute-to-a-friend-and-to-a-dream-that-has-passed/

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The afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, is clearly etched in my mind. The country was under siege, everybody around me was working on a story about the terrorist attacks, and there I sat, writing a story and designing a page about an Italian restaurant in Atchison, Kan.

Insignificant or what? My boss and mentor, Pat Lowry, later tried to tell me that what I did that day was important because it gave us all a sense that life goes on, even under the direst of circumstances.

I again had that insignificant feeling today as I worked on the upcoming travel page for The Gazette while a coworker and friend was clearing out his desk a few feet away. I wanted to leave, go for a walk or something, but I felt I needed to stay. One, to do my job, and two, to show support for him.

My colleague was one of 13 fellow Gazette newsroom staffers who were laid off Tuesday as part of the continuing reorganization project, prompted by a combination of the changes in the newspaper industry, the devastating flood in Cedar Rapids last summer and the economic downturn that has left nobody unscathed.

The staff knew this day would come; we were made aware of it earlier this year. But it still didn’t make it any less shocking or difficult to absorb.

I have been through this before. My last three newspapers have gone through some kind of change during my tenure. In 2001, my husband and I were both on the chopping block of The Leavenworth (Kan.) Times. In 2003, a reorganization of sorts at the Atchison (Kan.) Globe saw the managing editor getting axed and me taking his place. Then, the next year at the Globe, my boss, Mr. Lowry, was shown the door. That was the final straw for me. I applied for one job and one job only at The Gazette in my homeland of Eastern Iowa.

Now, The Gazette is going through major changes and reorganization. I do believe changes are necessary to keep the business afloat. But I never like to see anybody lose their job and livelihood. I would say I have survivor’s guilt but I am not totally convinced yet that I am a survivor.

As disappointed as I am in The Gazette that good people have lost their jobs and now face an uncertain future, I still believe in journalism and The Gazette’s mission. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring…

Record-breaking cold temperatures. Restructuring of the organization where I work. Constant news of layoffs in the industry I’ve built my whole career around. Where’s the comfort?

I’ll admit my plan to dutifully watch what I eat and keep to a strict workout routine has gone by the wayside this week. Staying committed to an overhaul of the diet and life in general should be fairly simple. Then stress intervenes.  

At times like these, I’m almost thankful I’ve gone through my share of job insecurity, financial struggles and uncertainty – especially over the past eight years. Every time it seemed like nothing could get worse or better, a new opportunity presented itself.

When I lost my newspaper job in March 2001, I got a different one three months later – one that I loved and thrived in. In March 2002 when the doctor told me I was infertile, it turns out I was actually pregnant. Eight months later I became a mother. When there was upheaval at my job (the one I loved) in 2004, an opportunity opened up at The Gazette, allowing us to return home to eastern Iowa.

Now, there is upheaval once again in the workplace. But this time it is different. Scary, yes. Nobody can afford to be unemployed – especially with the job market so grim. But I see opportunity and forward-thinking in The Gazette’s plan. Will everybody who works there now make it through the restructuring? Probably not. Am I guaranteed a job? No, nobody is. But I do have a sense of resilience that will keep me going no matter what happens.

I am not going to be militant about counting every calorie and dragging myself to the gym every day. After all, it is 30 below zero and everything I learned in my career the past 15 years is changing. But I’m not just going to give up either. That’s how I became frumpy in the first place.


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