Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Great Layoff Wait of 2008

We begin Day Three of "The Wait" by offering an open thread for everyone to share credible signs that the layoffs are finally near.

The best information is news from a supervisor at the department head level or higher. That may not come.

There are other clues. Did you AME or department head show up in the office during a vacation? Was an HR official seen in your department with an arm full of folders? Was the conference room's windows covered up with paper? Were cardboard boxes laying around today?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

How do any of us keep working in this environment? Good people are already one foot out the door. Some have already applied for jobs in other organizations media related and otherwise. And the rest of us well, more than a few contemplate calling in sick regularly. Others take vacation days. It's miserable. It's impossible to concentrate in the office (and the few chipper souls who seem to be oblivious to this don't help) and outside of the office you have brief moments when you realize you're actually not thinking about loosing your job. At this point I almost envy DISD teachers, at least they got the word in a week and had a job fair with employers lining up to hire them (Hello, Las Vegas!). That ain't happening for us. Each day I walk into work I ask myself if I want to be in this profession anymore. That's how badly this place has diminished my spirit and passion for journalism. I don't want to feel like a sour puss, I don't want to be miserable in my cubicle. I don't want to think about how my severance will only get me through a month. I'm tired of checking this blog for news because no one says anything. I'm tired period. Lay me off, fire me, kick me out the door. But until you do I'm just going to work, ignore the tension if I can, and do my job until I can't because it's what I want to do. Not for corporate or clusters. Not for the DMEs or AMEs or who gives an M E.
I just want to work. And if I only get to until next Friday or next month I'm fine with that, and I'll gladly cash my last check at the bar at Founder's Grill.

Anonymous said...

It's trend right now to hate public institutions, like DISD, but at least there is a modicum of transparency and accountability in public institutions that is sorely lacking here.

Anonymous said...

"How do any of us keep working in this environment?"

Sadly, "this environment" isn't going to go away. Even after this is over, those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to remain will know they've only postponed the inevitable. Really, the only question is for how long.

Anonymous said...

Not for nothing has my doctor put me on medication. I love the profession but this delay and lack of commun ication is not only harmful to morale but to the folks who put the product out. I can barely focus on my work as much as I feel passionate about it. Sorry to gripe but I am sure I am not alone.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Before this rant, here's a disclaimer. I am rank-and-file newsroom, not closeted management. But it seems like some of you whiners out there need a slap in the face. Here it is.

If there are folks out there certain they are going to be let go, why didn't they take the buyout? I just don't get it.

People who are so unprofessional that they stop working because they assume they're going to be laid off probably deserve to be laid off. I know I don't want to continue working with people like that.

Let's say those miserable souls make it through this time. Do you really think the mood's going to change around here? Is this cut going to fix everything that ails the company? Sorry, there's no magic bullet for this company.

Yes it sucks, but if you've ever had the occasion to peel your eyes away from your navel or your game of computer solitaire, you may have noticed that this is nothing new. Deal with it or get off your lazy ass and find another line of work.

If you don't want to work where the threat of staff reduction is ever-present, start your own business or move to Pluto or some other former planet. Because it's the reality everybody is facing these days. I could understand the angst six years ago, when nobody saw it coming. But if you're not mentally able to do your job despite the environment being polluted by uncertainty and managerial incompetence by now, you should have gotten out a long time ago.

End of rant. You can go back to commenting on your friends' Facebook photos.

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether this will boost anyone's spirits, but I look around me and still see a lot of very talented people. Someone said in a previous comment on another thread that we had lost 70 percent of our talent. I couldn't put a percentage on it, but I disagree. I still see photographers like David Woo (a Pulitzer finalist). I still see fine writers like Mike Granberry or Doug Swanson (another Pulitzer finalist). I see line editors, copy editors and designers who have executed every redesign and restructuring plan tossed at them with great professionalism. I see bosses - although not as many as I would prefer - who care as much about their people as they do about good journalism. I see people with a lot of experience still at the top of their game. I see younger people with great promise.

They are my heroes.

Anonymous said...

If you think "lazy asses" are the only ones who have been affected by this, then you might be management material.

Some of these people are solid contributors, multiple bylines, few errors, etc. Probably a lot of their fears are unfounded, but it's not unreasonable for them to be worried, or for us to comment on it.

"Deal with it."

You're an absolute riot. Where did anyone ever state that this shit came as a shock given what's happening nationwide?

Industry woes aside -- again, who the hell doesn't know shit is bad everywhere -- this blog is about our situation.

It's easier said than done to take a buyout in this economic climate. It wasn't that good of an offer.

So keep your "reality check" to yourself. As far the slap to the face you mentioned that people on this blog so sorely need, perhaps the slapping noise you'll hear soon will be your ass hitting the pavement like the rest of us.

The difference will be that we won't have rimshot dry on our lips like you when we got the boot.

Anonymous said...

Geez, if we're not allowed to whine now, when can we?

I don't think I'm lazy, but knowing I could get called any minute and told I'm fired does affect my enthusiasm for my job. Sorry.

We're not robots or factory-line workers. We don't just "work" - we create. It's not always very artistic, but it does require a certain amount of passion to do what we do in the newsroom. Journalism is as much a lifestyle as a profession. Your time card may say you clock out at certain hour, but it's really a 24-7 gig.

My job, like most in the news business, takes a lot of mental energy. It takes a lot of forward thinking and planning ahead. It's hard to make plans or tackle long-range tasks when, in the back of your mind, it may be all for naught. I think that's human nature, not laziness.

This job also requires fighting through the boring, menial tasks that make up 80 percent of my job so that I get to do the 20 percent I really enjoy. Knowing that I may never get to do the 20 percent again makes the other 80 percent that much tougher.

And yeah, I do check Facebook once in a while. It's better for my health - mental and physical - than a smoke break.

Anonymous said...

To be a manager

An Indian walks into a cafe with a shotgun in one hand and a bucket of buffalo manure in the other. He says to the waiter, "Me want coffee".

The waiter says, "Sure chief, coming right up". He gets the Indian a tall mug of coffee, and the Indian drinks it down in one gulp, picks up the bucket of manure, throws it into the air, blasts it with the shotgun, then just walks out.

The next morning the Indian returns. He has his shotgun in one hand and a bucket of buffalo manure in the other. He walks up to the counter and says to the waiter, "Me want coffee". The waiter says "Whoa, Tonto. We're still cleaning up your mess from the last time you were here. What the heck was that all about, anyway?"

The Indian smiles and proudly says, "Me in training for upper management. Come in, drink coffee, shoot the shit, and disappear for the rest of the day."

Anonymous said...

Was that supposed to be funny?

Anonymous said...

No question that we are not in control of the situation. Putting one's nose to the grindstone and working while one still can makes a certain level of common sense. But not everyone can do it.
How about channelling energy into thinking about the next job, a better one. Think about calling people you may have neglected, maybe even not known, to talk to them about a job. Think of a job you want to do, for people you want to work for. Explore possibilities you might not have considered previously. In other words, take charge of the things you can take charge of. It's empowering. Honest.

This costs some money - about $300 - but I have had good reports. There is a company in Dallas named IRSCO - Innovative Resource Systems Company. Among other things, they do resumes. The way they do this is interesting. They interview you to learn how to construct a resume that fits your experience and your desires, even or if you want to redesign your career. Their phone number is 972-392-4077. This is one small way to try to take charge.

Anonymous said...

IRSCO's website is www.irsco2.com

Here's another job listing source. It's called Christine's list, and t's run out of Austin by a consultant named Christine Simmons. She puts out a list of media-related jobs every couple of weeks. Some are in Dallas or elsewhere in Texas; some out of state. If you are interested in getting the free list, send Christine an email at christine@scgtexas.com

Just as an example, there is an open job on the list at the FDIC that pays up to $115,000 for someone to respond to FOIA requests, congressional inquiries and assorted other writing duties. Not all the jobs pay as well, but the list has a variety of options.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have current information on the status of the layoffs?


P.S.: Let us not attack each other. Harmless disagreements are one thing. But the post from earlier -- the one that called out "whiners" by referring to them as "lazy ass" and recommended they move to Pluto -- was hateful.

Anonymous said...

Can we agree to stop asking why people who are scared of getting laid off didn't take the buyout? What a stupid question. They didn't take the buyout because they want to keep their JOB. They don't want a buyout, they don't want to be laid off. They want to WORK. For many folks, the buyout payoff would have scored them jack-diddly amount of time to find another job. Let's stop giving each other a hard time for venting. This is the one place where these folks can. It's probably what's keeping them from jumping out the window. So try this little trick I do when I don't like what I'm reading - there's a little red "x" at the top right-hand corner of your browser. Please click it.

Anonymous said...

Management must get a kick out of reading some of the postings on this blog. When we tear at each other, it only reinforces their view of us as the rabble. Try thinking of holding your tongue - or the ENTER key - as withholding gratification for those who wish to minimize us.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you guys are again going through this experience. I left the DMN back in 2006 and if it's any consolation, life definitely improved.

I know you've heard the "life after DMN is great" talk but I assure you, it can be. If you are one of the lucky ones to leave soon, keep your chin up, never let them see you cry and walk out the building knowing that this is the time to take back control of your career.

Journalism is not dead, it's just popped up in other areas and talent is always needed.

Troy said...

I hope some of these links will help those affected by the layoffs:

Legal resources for freelancers:
http://freelanceswitch.com/the-business-of-freelancing/legal-resources-for-freelancers/

Lifehacker's job search links:
http://lifehacker.com/5043707/lifehackers-guide-to-nabbing-the-job-you-want

Lifehacker's resume tips:
http://lifehacker.com/5042344/rebuild-your-resume-with-five-simple-fixes

Lifehacker's salary tips:
http://lifehacker.com/5041815/know-what-salary-to-ask-for-in-your-new-job

CareerBuilder's resume tips:
http://tinyurl.com/55z4fu

Alternative job search sites:

MediaBistro
http://www.mediabistro.com/joblistings/

SND (mostly design jobs)
http://snd.org/jobs/jobs.lasso

Indeed.com (aggregate job search)
http://www.indeed.com/

Anonymous said...

Thanks much to the poster who supplied christine's list and the resume place! Also, kudos to the one right above! I like the post from former DMN workers, too! That's the kind of stuff we need right now. The job market is brutal out there. We don't need wannabe supervisors on this site spewing hate for their fellow workers in the trenches. Others have stated clearly why buyouts weren't taken by most people. Um, because they sucked. Also, I doubt that that hate monger is doing such terrific work, anyway, since it had time to read this blog and post a lengthy note.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to echo what the poster above said about life after the DMN. I had a long career at The DMN, left in 2006, and I could not be happier. There absolutely is life after the DMN. You may miss your friends, but you won't miss the newspaper. Keep your chins up down there. When you have a beer over at Founders or the Hyatt or wherever, I'll be there in spirit. Best to all.

Anonymous said...

Former dmner here. what ever happened to the Live Better Here campaign. take care in dallas.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the indian and the buffalo manure joke was funny as hell. Good on ya, mate.

Anonymous said...

It can get worse. If management gets creative, they will freeze wages on top of the layoffs.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I smell a pay cut before the holidays.

Anonymous said...

I heard they made interactive reapply for their jobs years back at a lower rate.

Anonymous said...

Instead of paying for a resume service, consider building a support network with journalists who already went that route. Many are willing to share their resumes and critique yours for free. You can learn to create a top-notch resume and save yourself the stress of paying out hundreds of dollars. Also, use that same network to share information about freelance gigs and pay rates. Many places are decreasing pay rates for freelancers because there's a glut of us. Some want to pay only $10 to $20 per hour. The attitude is that if we don't take the job, another unemployed journalist in the growing line of laid off writers will take that low pay. Sadly, they are often right. By networking with other laid off journalists in my city (no longer Dallas), I've learned where I can charge $65 to $125 per hour. By targeting these outlets, I've been making maximum dollars for the hours I write. That frees me up to take inexpensive night classes at a community college to learn all the advance Web skills I can to position myself to land a good job in the future. Where do I get writing gigs that pay well? I called every college, medical association and hospital in the area. I also called printer and design companies for tips on which corporations hire freelancers. There are also many hire profile people who will pay you well to tweak their columns and speeches. I see this as interim work for me until I land the job I want. It's challenging, but I'm not hurting a bit financially. You can do this!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard if the Great Layoff Wait will continue into next week?

Anonymous said...

For those needing good health insurance, contact Van Williamson, of Williamson & Associates...He's a Dallas-based insurance broker that former staff photographer Judy Walgren highly recommended to me. He's a great guy to get good quotes from. Excellent communication and customer service. The rates he found for me were much better than Cobra!

Here's Van's contact info:
Van Williamson
214.880.7570
VanWilliamson@VKWAssociates.com
3333 Lee Parkway, Suite 600
Dallas 75219

Anonymous said...

Re: whether the wait continues into next week.
I really don't want to lose my job. I love working here, for the most part. Though I've worked my tail off to be here, and stay while so many others were being let go over the years, I do consider myself blessed to be here, doing what i want to do.
Still, I wish the powers that be would get moving and get this over with.
Especially the last few days my stomach has been in turmoil, knowing that any day could be my last, or that I'll have to see someone else I care about, or may not even know personally since I've been buried in the burbs for so long, but whom I respect as a professional, get told they no longer have a job.
This is torture. Again.

But hey, thanks to all of you who have posted sites with job listings, info on getting an insurance quote, freelance writing and such. I think it's going to be very helpful to many of us. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I agree -- this string alone has been a wealth of great information and advice. Thanks, everybody.

Anonymous said...

Everybody talks about networking... has anyone set up a Facebook group or something similar? There already are plenty of past and present colleagues signed up. If anything it will be the quickest way to get the word out when something finally happens.

Anonymous said...

I agree about Facebook. Ignore the gratuitous slap by an earlier poster, re: "the hater". Facebook is the fastest way to get news out to your own network of friends, family, coworkers and, maybe, future colleagues (and you don't have to worry about it being on the company email server).

Anonymous said...

LinkedIn is more of a job-focused networking site (whereas Facebook is broader). On LinkedIn you not only have access to your network of folks, but your network's network.

Anonymous said...

God do I feel old. I've never used Facebook. *hangs head in shame*
Ok guys, no bashing, here, lol.

Anonymous said...

Hey previous poster ... not to worry -- at least you used the whole "lol" acronym correctly! For some reason my mother keeps spelling it "loll" ... as if she's trying to make a word of it or something.

Anyway, thanks to The Rock and the myriad others who have presented some great information on this blog. It's been a good -- albeit often sad -- read, not to mention very helpful at times.

Also, pleasure working with each and every one of you out there. Best of luck to us all.

Anonymous said...

Another very good source of pay: Doctors and scientists for whom English is a second language. They need to publish papers and books as well as give presentations in order to receive tenure. Many will pay top scale for a skilled writer and editor to rework their material. Also, check with more than one office when you call or drop by schools or universities for freelance work. Human Resources or media services departments are often dead-ends. But research departments, development offices and other areas are often eager to hire people with our skills. A designer I know has picked up good paying freelance gigs redoing menus for restaurants, which are raising their prices. These aren't jobs most journalists want to do, but they can pay well and keep you afloat until you land a job you want.

Anonymous said...

Although I think more people use Facebook than LinkedIn.

If you've never used it, it's easy. And it's amazing how many people you've lost touch with over the years are on facebook.

Anonymous said...

It's tomorrow. This comes from an editor in metro.

Anonymous said...

I walked out with a Metro editor tonight. When I jokingly said, "Do you think they'll ever actually lay off anyone?" the editor looked on the verge of throwing up, then said, "Tomorrow. It's definitely tomorrow."

Anonymous said...

Lots of DMN alums who've moved on to bigger and brighter things elsewhere are thinking good thoughts for y'all these days.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of y'all as D-Day approaches
-- an ex-DMN'er

Anonymous said...

Another ex-DMNer here. Hang in there. Will be thinking about everyone at 508 Young St. tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Another former DMNer here. I pinch myself each day over the job I have now. It's been a big switch, but I don't miss newspapers in the least. There are possibilities out there. Someone values your talent, even if it means having to learn a few new skills to fit in. Good luck to you all.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter if it's tomorrow or next week.
Consider the industry in which you toil.
It's troubled.
Consider the overall Dallas economy.
It's thriving.
Yes, it's a shame we can't expect real journalism to thrive at this juncture.
No, it's not your fault.
Don't be stupid.
All smart people will move on.

Anonymous said...

To the ex-DMN-ers: What are your jobs now? If you can even give the titles, to give us still in the bubble a sense of where we can be looking, that would be really helpful.

Pete Slover said...

I took a buyout in 2006, after 17 years at the DMN, two decades in journalism. Fortunately, I had a law degree and long-inactive license to (activate and) fall back on. The best surprise was how useful my journalism skills have proven outside the fold. To those of you leaving the paper, I offer my encouragement that yours will be, too. In answer to the last poster's question, my title now is Governance Counsel to the Pedernales Electric Cooperative outside Austin, the nation's largest member-owned electric utility (a place that has had some well publicized and Googleable problems). Some background on my post-buyout journey is linked to my name, above. I have a pit in my stomach as I wait and watch. Wishing you all the best.....
Pedro

Jelly Honk said...

All I have is 4 minutes and 17 seconds of a solidarity and catharsis called "Firing Line." (copyright 2008). It was written for those workers who refuse to let self-centered fear rob them of their professional dignity, humanity, friendships and courage to speak up when necessary. I hope I'm not booging ya, because I don't mean to boog ya. But it really helped me last week to write it, so I hope it at least distracts others for 4 minutes and 17 seconds. It will begin playing if you go to myspace.com/jkellyjr

Anonymous said...

I took the buyout last month and have landed a position as a marketing copywriter with a nonprofit foundation.

Anonymous said...

Also, my heart is with all of you today. Best of luck.