Thursday, August 14, 2014

To all my former Star colleagues recently let go or having to reapply for their jobs

I feel for you. Just a few short years ago, I was called into my editor's office and told my services were no longer required. I was devastated. I had sunk so much of my life in my job, I had no idea what to do. I drove home in shock and promptly had a mini-nervous breakdown on Twitter. The next morning, I started sending out e-mails to all the local publications, offering up a scratched-and-dented reporter for sale at dirt-cheap prices. I also canceled my subscription.

Over the coming weeks, I had deadline withdrawal. I missed the rush of getting a breaking news story in at the last minute. At the same time, I was dealing with Gannett's HR department, which was trying to screw me out of my contractually obligated severance. Because how could they pay me the money I paid into my unemployment and let the former CEO Craig Dubow walk away with a $37 million retirement package? He had bills to pay, dammit!

Since then, I've managed to carve out a pretty decent career as a freelancer specializing in cycling and outdoor travel journalism. (Ironically, during every review session, I would plead with my editors to let me write some travel features, but to no avail.) I've traveled to France and around the U.S. -- often on other folks' dime -- and written about my adventures for hundreds of thousands of readers. I'm always working, but on stories I'm passionate about and truly enjoy. As I sit here typing on my computer wearing a T-shirt and shorts, I can honestly tell you I am much, much happier now than I ever was at the Star.

For all of you fucked over by the greed of Gannett yet again, be glad you're out. You no longer have to be constantly looking over your shoulder looking for the inevitable axe to fall. You don't have to listen to some corporate talking head talking about recasting the newsroom with an eye on the future. Because if you think this is the last round of layoffs, you are sorely mistaken. Gannett doesn't care about our community or quality journalism, it cares about profit. Nothing more. And they are going to continue to downsize staff until they have squeezed every last nickel they can from the Star's carcass.

The good ship USS Indianapolis Star is taking on water and sinking. When it finally goes down -- and it will go down -- everyone left on that ship is going to be caught in the suction. (Although by that time there will likely only be one employee left, regurgitating press releases and covering the party crasher beat.) You have been given a life raft; use it to paddle away from Gannett and toward a brighter future.

I apologize for any mistakes, grammar errors or misspellings in this long-winded post. I didn't have a copy editor.

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