Layoffs: When the news comes home to roost

Over the years — the decades, actually — I’ve handled/edited many business articles about companies laying off workers and whole trades being eliminated by advances in technology. The paper I work for has even run pieces about how some families are affected by layoffs. For many of those decades, the newspaper industry has a whole was largely immune to the layoff virus. Sure, papers folded. But most newspapers were considered to be licences to print cash — because they were the best way for advertisers to get the attention of customers.

Not so anymore.

Newspapers are shedding jobs by the thousands and desperately trying to make a go of it online, where it is slim pickings for ad revenue. That may be because many companies like Ford, GM, Honda, Canadian Tire, Sears et al have set up their own sites to showcase and sell their products.

When I shopped for a new car this summer, I checked out several automakers’ websites. When I go shopping for a dress, I tap into Simons or Sears sites and scope out what is available. And I buy natural facial moisturizers, shampoos and such on the Yves Rocher site — and they are delivered to my community mail box within three days.

Honestly, as a consumer, I am delighted by the fact that I can shop from my laptop computer or smartphone.

But as a journalist, I am saddened by the demise of the newspaper industry and, if new revenue streams are not found, its imminent demise. No doubt, it won’t completely die; some papers will survive in digital form with few staff members. But many old, honourable newspapers will disappear completely.

The shakeout that has been occurring for the past five to 10 years in the newspaper industry has left and will leave many, many more thousands of people looking for new jobs — including me.

It’s only a question of time before I will have to move on from the paper I have called home since my late teens, and I have no plans to retire until at least, say, 75.

So, when layoff time comes for me, I’ll look for work with a smaller, country paper — many of which still seem to be thriving. Or find a writing gig somewhere.

Or maybe I’ll become a dominatrix — a legal, non-sexual trade, incidentally. Because it is all theatre, really. (I know of what I speak.)

Or who knows . . . There is a fortune to be made in marijuana stocks these days.

We have to take life one day at a time, and be thankful for all of our blessings, past and present.

Life is a miracle, really . . .

— Jillian

Photo: Pressroom of the New York Times in 1942. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

7 thoughts on “Layoffs: When the news comes home to roost

  1. I believe we lose some of our sense of community as we lose newspapers. Growing up in Chicago we had the Tribune on the right and the Sun Times on the left. Many people got both papers and the right versus left stayed closer to the mean than we do today. Nevertheless, the community received a common source of input which could be discussed from all points of view. Today many receive their news from a website which is likely to have skewed the news in a certain direction. Further, the sources are highly varied and a common fact set eludes us, severely limiting community dialogue. Joe

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    1. There’s no doubt that we lose some of our sense of local community, Joe. But the world has increasingly become a global village thanks to the Internet. We find ourselves caring more and more about individuals in the news in faraway countries — and news about them travels around the world in the blink of an eye. The plight of one dead refugee child on a beach touches millions of people around the world.

      But newspapers have always tended to hold local politicians accountable, and that is something important that will be lost as newspapers go out of business. Much more will be lost, of course . . .

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  2. I agree with you, sewinudist. Like you said, many who receive their news from a website, is likely to have news skewed in a certain direction. Much like going to different sites for health advise. Never a good idea to believe it all.
    .
    I read some articles from the Ottawa Citizen site. I no longer get a daily delivery, mostly because I can’t afford any extras in my life now. I do still enjoy reading the printed word on hard copy. I know many who still get a paper, but yes, times are changing.
    There will still be a need for the reporters to bring us the news and the stories, editors to sort the writings.
    You are lucky to have so much versatility, Jillian. Not everyone can have a job they love let alone a second time around.
    Maybe extinction of the newspapers won’t happen in our lifetime. After all, computers were supposed to eliminate paper by 98% when the pc became affordable.

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    1. I expect that you will see the majority of mainstream print newspapers in Canada and the United States stop publishing within the next decade, though some will survive online. The days of print newspapers are winding down as the baby boomer generation fades away. Millennials and those behind them were raised with laptops and smartphones — and television, of course. Paper is not part of their reality.

      I don’t know how much actual paper has been eliminated, but I am sure it is a pretty high percentage. The only paper I use is for my printer, and then I don’t use it very often. Oh, and I have a notepad for the grocery list and to scribble other notes.

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  3. I was in Montreal when the news about the buyouts at Postmedia papers were announced a couple weeks ago, so I imagined it wasn’t a good time around your office, lately.

    Tonight in a discussion on public radio about the media being played by the Trump campaign, there was acknowledgement that newspapers have largely stayed above that and much of the strongest and longest criticism of Trump has come through editorials. Electronic media has been much slower to wise up as they have been too focused on ratings. Newspapers have upheld the integrity of the profession and now are avoiding the heavy shame many others are feeling.

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    1. I plan to write a post soon about the difference between headline writing for print and for online. I won’t get into it now, except to say there is a big difference.

      Generally, most of what you find in a newspaper’s print edition also appears in their online edition. But the online paper probably has many more stories, because they have infinitely more space there.

      So, really, you’re getting more online — and you are getting it much quicker than you would if you wait around for the print edition to hit the streets. So, if papers survive, you will still get the same sort of reporting you get in your print edition — and much more.

      But it is all about the money, i.e. the revenue stream. They need paying subscribers and advertisers. And they need to come up with others ways to earn money — and they are working on it quite frantically.

      Who knows? They might come up with something to save the industry. As they say, where there is a will, there is a way.

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