Only a year ago, words/phrases such as recession* and stimulus were not common terms in my everyday vernacular. To be honest, I’d say my daily babble was filled with “like” and “riiiight” as if I were still 15 years old. But the slumping economy has modified the chatter escaping my mouth and, unfortunately, yesterday allowed George W. Bush’s financial fiasco (check out the alliteration folks!) to hit far closer to home than I would have preferred.
The media company I work for has put into effect mandatory furloughs, which in essence means for 10 weeks through this fall, my paycheck will decrease by 20 percent as I am forced to take 10 unpaid days off from my newspaper job. Bummer, huh?
For a long time, it seemed as though my company cunningly escaped much of the drama occurring at other news outlets across the country. As I watched other reporters cave into promises of buyouts or receive their pink slips as they tightly held onto their careers, I only somewhat feared the same happening to me. Some part of me never truly succumbed to the thought that I, a journalist with less than two years of “real world” experience under her belt, could face the same fate.
And although my job security truly isn’t in question at the moment – another story for another time – my wages remain in jeopardy. I’m low man on the totem pole and if I didn’t have a second income regularly reaching my wallet, this 8-hour-weekly-loss could significantly affect my bill-paying abilities. But I luckily have that supplemental income and while losing cash money is never ideal, I can manage.
Then I look around my office at those who I’m certain will feel this monetary pinch a bit more painfully than others. The single mothers or the ones helping to support their parents. The individuals at this newspaper who have more than an overly-hyper puppy depending on them. They are the ones who will suffer as a result of this weakened economy and tighter budgetary constraints throughout my particular company. They are the ones who don’t have a means for recouping those funds. They are the ones who will have to decide “this or that” when figuring out where the monies need to go and what items or luxuries they can now forego.
And maybe 10 days doesn’t seem like much. Perhaps it’s a drop in the bucket to some. But when you are living paycheck to paycheck, a $100 loss is significant, not to mention $1,000+ over a year’s time.
What I do fear, however, is that this is simply a sign of things to come within not just my industry – because clearly the news business has had an ominous future for quite some time – but the specific company I work for. So many other journalism titans have fallen when faced with the same challenges, and it sadly seems only a matter of time before my humble paper becomes another victim of bankruptcy due to the wavering economy. And with my brief experience and lack of daily-newspaper knowledge, the likelihood of finding another reporter position elsewhere seemingly appears nonexistant.
Despite my love for this business and my absolute joy to have a career where I spend every day writing – something I would prefer to keep doing even if it meant making nickels as my salary – I’m foreseeing the end as nearer than I had previously imagined. I see the bottom finally falling out and me left with approximately $1,700 in bills each month and attempting to pay them on a waitress’ meager wages and unguaranteed tips.
For me and my career, it feels like a journalism apocalypse. My options are to hang tight for the ride to unemployment or jump ship while I still can. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t prefer to close my eyes and remain on board for the journey, but I’m thinking it might be safer to go overboard and see where I land.
* I’ve decided to bold all of the words that are “new” to my vocabulary as if this were a 7th grade homework assignment. And by “new,” I simply mean words that I’ve always known, but never in my life had to use until the almight GW got a hold of this country and turned it to shit, forcing us into a downward economic spiral.**
** This is my first time utilizing footnotes and I was so dorkily (not a word) excited, I had to create two. Have I mentioned how lame I am before? If not, I am and you have been warned.
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