I am watching with great dread the fate of my former colleagues in print journalism, watching as they are being forced out of work or forced to take unpaid furloughs.
It’s a continuation of what has been happening to the media landscape for years.
Gannett Corp. laid off seven newsroom staff members from the Austin American-Statesman this week. One of them is a former colleague of mine with whom I worked way back when I first arrived in Texas in 1984. She gravitated from the Beaumont Enterprise to the American-Statesman two years later and was told that her 34 years of service was no longer relevant.
Another former colleague of mine, who works for a Gannett newspaper in Corpus Christi, is being told to take one week of unpaid leave each month for an undetermined amount of time. He told me recently “it sucks,” but he’s doing what he needs to do.
Gannett, by the way, is the name of the company that now owns the newspaper that served as my final stop in a daily print journalism career that spanned nearly 37 years. That career ended in Amarillo when the paper was owned by Morris Communications. Morris eventually sold all its papers to GateHouse Media, which this past year purchased Gannett Corp.; however, the newly minted newspaper giant operates under the Gannett name.
This is tough to watch.
I am watching it happen in real time while thanking Almighty God in heaven that I am no longer subject to that kind of misery. I went though enough of it as my career ended. Two pay cuts, decimating of staff, a newsroom reorganization and finally being told I would no longer do what I had done with some success for most of my career.
My heart hurts for my colleagues who are still toiling, still wondering, still awakening every day while not knowing with any form of certainty what the future holds for them.
They are doing their jobs the best they can do. The media landscape is shifting under their feet. It is unsteady at best.
All I am left to do — if you’ll pardon the cliché many of us have grown tired of hearing — is offer my thoughts and prayers for those who are being caught up in the media sausage grinder. I was there once myself. They just need to know that many of us who have gone on to “pursue other interests” are in their corner.