Projects, layoffs and resignations
October 6, 2008, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Adventure, Challenge, Events, Job Search, Journalism, News Industry, Sea Change

Well hey everybody. It’s been a month since I last posted. Part of that is because I’ve been busy at work, and part of it is because I’ve been lazy at blogging. Really lazy.

Obviously my big news is that I am on a list of 25-27 employees expected to be laid off by Oct. 24. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

The past month started out with some real promise. Steve Smith, former editor-in-chief of The Spokesman-Review, asked Brian Immel and me to kick off a big project. We were charged with taking the popular SportsLink blog and spinning it off into its own website, with the goal of making it profitable. That was going to be our job — I’d no longer be in the sports department.

The project got going slowly because Brian was busy working on the Spokesman’s yet-to-be-launched new website. So I continued my sports multimedia producer job. This included another new project, The Mike & Greg Show — a weekly video with two high-school sports reporters in which they make their game picks for the upcoming weekend. So far, we’ve done four episodes (1, 2, 3, 4).

Last Monday, Brian and I finally started having some good conversations on what we wanted to do with SportsLink. We wanted text-message updates, better play for videos, customizable home pages — we were even toying with the idea of making it a social networking site. (I know, it’s a dreaded term. There’s just no better one.)

Then came Wednesday, and everything came to a halt.

Layoffs. For me, out of the blue. I expected to get at least a little warning that layoffs might be coming. It was quite sudden — a morning e-mail announcing an all-staff meeting, rumors throughout the day, then the gauntlet came down.

Twenty-one union-covered newsroom employees were on the layoff list. Plus four to six managers. All said, 25 to 27 people gone from the newsroom. That’s about one-quarter of the staff. It’s devastating. Amid the turmoil, Steve also resigned. He had for months told people there wouldn’t be more layoffs under his watch. I’m glad he followed through.

The layoffs, as governed by an agreement between management and the union, must be done by inverse seniority. The majority of us on the list are 20-something journalists from all departments. Three of us are from sports. Wednesday night, a group of us gathered at Lisa’s and my place for some commiseration.

The next day, assistant managing editor Carla Savalli announced her resignation. And the exodus had started.

People have two weeks to submit voluntary resignations, which would help save the jobs of some of the people on the layoff list. I’m not holding out too much hope. And that gets me to, well, me.

When the news was announced, I didn’t know how to take it. I knew my name would be on that list; I’m the second-least-senior member of the sports staff. After Steve’s meeting, I immediately ducked out of the newsroom and headed home.

But now it’s sinking in. For the past few days, I’ve been working on getting my stuff together to send out job applications. Lisa graciously redesigned my résumé for me, I uploaded a few of my videos to Vimeo and I gathered together a bunch of print clips for my portfolio.

Really, I’ve started to see this as an exciting challenge, a chance to go somewhere else without feeling bad about leaving the Spokesman. I’m looking not just near my hometown Seattle, but elsewhere in the country. I’m not limiting myself to just print or just video, I’m broadening my scope. And, yes, that means broadening my scope past newspapers — though that’s where the majority of my searching has taken me.

I will soon make a new page for this website to function as a sort of video portfolio. And I may start putting up some print clips. But this means I may hide the blog for a little bit, to keep it out of the eyes of potential employers. I don’t think there’s anything that could hurt my chances here, but it’s not worth the risk. If I hide the blog, I’ll be sure to tell you all how to access it.

In the meantime, thanks to those of you who have called or texted me to check in. I’ll keep everyone posted.


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hope you dont get laid off but there are still lots of jobs posted on several employment sites. (professional networking) (aggregated listings) (matches you to jobs)

Good luck!

Comment by Rachel

Nick, I was really, really depressed to read about this last week. Items on Romenesko mean a heck of a lot more when it’s people you know. But I’m sure you’ll land somewhere bigger and better. You’ve got the talent to go pretty much anywhere.

And thankfully, Rachel-bot has given you some great job hunting tips.

All the best.

Comment by bschraum

Good luck with your searching, Nick. Your next employer will be lucky to have found you.

Comment by Kaci

Sounds like things have gone seriously upside-down at The Spokesman. I’m fascinated that the union contract precipitated this.

I hope that, amid all this tossed-aside potential, some good News Challenge grant proposals appear.

Comment by tor

Something to note: If people use your name to create a link on their blogroll, those links will show up when employers Google your name. Then it won’t really be hidden at all.

Regardless, good luck with the site and the job hunt.

Comment by Annette

[…] departing co-workers are an insanely talented bunch. A few have gone public with their fates (here, here). My co-producer, Thuy Dzuong Nguyen, was on the list and wrote emphatically about the impact […]

Pingback by Hanging on despite Spokesman-Review layoffs | Editor, revised

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