Advice for fellow unemployed journalists at WFLA and the Tampa Tribune

Another round of layoffs for our friends at Media General. The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that the company eliminated 17 Tribune positions and six from WFLA. As recently as March, the Tribune let go dozens of employees and those left must take nearly two week vacations this summer.

So welcome to the club, boys and girls. So what the hell are you going to do now?

First, join a community of journalists in a similar situation. Right now, I’m particularly fond of Jilted Journalists. Maybe it’s just because the name sums up my feelings on the whole unemployment thing. (h/t to Virtual Journalist for the link.)

Next, apply for the dole. But figure you’ll only get $300 a week at most.

Then, start looking for jobs. If you’re thinking about government work, I have one piece of advice: Don’t take postal service jobs from private companies promising you sample exams and study guides. With all the layoffs, the feds are seeing more of these scams. Get more info here.

(Oh, and if you’re thinking of moving to some hip town and becoming an alt-weekly writer, I’ve got some bad news.)

Now you need some extra money. Check out the latest list of class-action lawsuits. You, too, could get a few bucks in the mail.

In the meantime, you’re going to need to save some money. So, join one of those food warehouse memberships for a 60-day free trial and spend your severance on snacks for the next year. You’re gonna need it.

Finally, join the blogosphere! Come on, all the other reporters are doing it! Believe me, there’s nothing like embracing the technology that destroyed your life’s career. Good luck!

9 thoughts on “Advice for fellow unemployed journalists at WFLA and the Tampa Tribune

  1. Even with the recent news of more layoffs at the Trib and Sun-Sentinel, and reports that more journalists will lose their jobs this year than last, I wonder if those who are fortunate enough to still be employed fully realize it can happen to them. And if they are aware of it, it isn’t as some distant, vague concept — something that happens only if you’re terribly unlucky.

    In reality, it’s happening to everyone, from every strata of the newsroom. No job is safe, and those who still have one need to get busy making damn sure they have skills (and savings) to survive when they are told the sad news that there’s no longer any room for them, that they’ll have to find another way to come up with the money to pay their rent or mortgage and buy their food.

  2. Instead of crying about your job loss maybe you can look for work in another field instead of Journalism.

    I always wanted to be the center fielder for the NY Yankees… it never worked out so I got a job doing something else and went on with my life, perhaps you should also.

  3. Thanks a lot for the unemployment advice, Alex. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there. After getting the dreaded “I guess you know why I’m calling” phone call from Janet Coats May 27, I pretty much followed your tips to the letter. I’ve applied for 10 jobs now and received 10 rejections. Each one hurts a little less. But I haven’t given up on the idea that eventually the public will tire of poorly written reader gen copy and poorly sourced citizen journalism and demand a return to real journalism. In response to Clarence’s comments, I’m open to suggestions. However, it seems that, with two degrees in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and nearly 30 years working as a full-time journalist, I’m just not qualified to play center field.

  4. I hear ya D’Ann. I have a friend with less experience than you, but two grad degrees (one in Journalism, the other in Library Sciences) and is applying for copy editor positions at every single place imaginable. He’s gotten a few interviews, but no takers.

    That’s what sucks about the industry problems now. For someone like me, I can go into some company, bullshit about how I tried out that journalism thing but it didn’t work out and maybe grab a job making $14 an hour. For an unmarried guy like me, that would work, even though I’d be miserable.

    But for those journalists like you, who have made a career of it, going for those crap office jobs isn’t the same. They look at your past experience and figure either a) you’re too qualified (and might do some investigative reporting of their company) or b) too old to mold in the company culture.

    And what journalism choices do we have? Fucking examiner.com. That’s what’s been in my careerbuilder inbox for weeks now.

    I don’t want to end on a negative note, so I’ll say this:

    A friend of mine recently said that in the 1950s, when consumer cameras were released to the public, the freelance world of photographers came crashing down. Now suddenly everyone had a picture (sound familar?). Well, after a decade of laying off photographers and paying next to nothing for photos, the major companies decided quality was better than quantity and pushed the prices back up.

    I”m hoping, like you, that the public and media outlets realize the same thing.

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