A MinD in MoTown

The recession has increased my vocabulary.
February 19, 2009, 5:53 pm
Filed under: News Girl, Such a quandry, When I grow up

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.

9 Comments so far
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I know you probably don’t have much free time working two jobs, but I’m one of those people that refuses to jump ship until I’ve secured something to stay afloat with. Could you look for another job while keeping your current jobs?

Either way, don’t underestimate the power of small businesses. While the outlook may seem grim for the American newspaper, Plato say necessity is the mother of invention, and boy are we in need. 🙂

Oh, I can’t afford whatsoever to leave the newspaper job in search of another. I’d have to begin looking for other opportunities and definitively secure one before posting my notice. That’s without a doubt. And I’m not just yet looking for something else, but I’m keeping my eyes open if something pops up. Unfortunately, most things currently require moving and that is not something I’m willing to do at the present time.

Comment by omegaradium

I think you should add a couple of sentences to include “bailout” and “boldly & swiftly” (the phrase Pres. Obama used a lot to describe the type of help the economy needs)

I’m so sorry this is hitting you hard. This recession is pissing me off.

We’ve been in a hiring freeze forever, and my company has told us they will be cutting their jobs VERY soon… like over the next 60-90 days.

Talk about anxiety. I’m going to have high blood pressure every day for the next three months.

Best wishes to you! Hopefully we can all get through this together!

I’m very hopeful we can… This recession is definitely hitting way too many of us. I’ve had a stress headache for three damn days. Not good at all.

Comment by Cee

“cash money”

What is this cash money you speak of? That must be a new recession term.

I’m really terribly awesome and say “cash money.” You got a problem with that?

Comment by rs27

Reading posts like this makes me think of the student loan I took out and feel the beginning of a hive breakout.

Sorry darlin’. You’ve told me how print journalism has been your dream and it saddens me to see it seemingly crumble around you.

I already owe $49,000 in student loans, which I try not to think about. I guess I just have to learn to adapt to the changes in print, or else everything I have will crumble with it.

Comment by Kendall

I totally and completely feel like I could have written this post, as well. I feel the same way about print journalism and how we’re on board a sinking ship.

Furlough days are awful, but I have to keep telling myself that they are better than losing my job. Now, the fear for me is that my company will realize the furlough days didn’t work (our stocks are STILL down), and they’ll implement them again or just start laying more people off. Neither of which are good.

Apparently our company will save $9 million through these furloughs, but they warn that if the economy changes, the number of days could rise or fall. How lovely. I suppose this is the fair way to do things in order to preserve the jobs of many, but short term, it sucks…a lot.

Comment by E.P.

I’m glad that the forced days off don’t affect you too much! It does make me sad that the newspaper business is struggling so much.

You would think that with the attachment people have to news, it wouldn’t be in such dire conditions. But I suppose the Internet and the ability to find out what’s occurring for free negates the need for newspapers…

Comment by Megkathleen

OK…as a fellow journalist you’ve hit my sympathetic nerve. I was going to dump my subscription to the paper but I’ll hang on for now. Hang in there…

Thanks, I’m trying. And even if subscription sales do little for newspapers, any little bit helps at this point.

Comment by jbanc

It is funny… I used to be resentful of the fact that, as a graduate student, I was always going to be a little tighter on the budget than my full-time working friends. Strangely enough, I seem to be in a more stable financial position at this point in time. I never would have thought.

Part of me feels as though I’d be more financially stable if I took out a huge loan and went back to school for my masters. Then I remember I’ll eventually have to pay those monies back and if the market doesn’t improve, that just might not be possible.

Comment by Princess Pointful

These are seriously some pretty scary times. Practically every industry you can think of is laying-off right now. Hell, even the public schools are laying off teachers!

Teachers? How are kids supposed to get the appropriate education, the attention they not only crave but need to foster their dreams, and the proper learning environment without teachers? This economy is horrible! Maybe it’s time to pack our bags and head elsewhere…

Comment by Dutchess of Kickball

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