In Light of the Gannett Layoffs – Carpe Diem

Yesterday, Gannett, the nation’s #2 newspaper company, announced massive layoffs, including their #1 daily USA Today division.

Just in time for the holidays.

While I empathize with those who have lost their jobs, I see this as a positive for those of us in the freelance writing arena.

As a former newspaper editor who daily had to face budget constraints due to reduced print advertising (the more advertising space purchased, the more pages for actual news—less advertising, less news space), I frequently hired freelance journalists—stringers—to cover stories. It cost me far less money to pay the stringer than it did for me to send a staff writer to an event that may have meant overtime pay, as well as mileage reimbursement.

A stringer—typically—does not receive mileage reimbursement, and, of course, is not granted health benefits, overtime pay, or any of the other so-called perks of staff positions.

Trust me on this one thing—Gannett will still publish newspapers and will still need a warm body to cover a breaking or ongoing news event. Your local paper still has sports events, school board meetings, city and village council meetings, etc., to report on and will be hard-pressed with their reduced staff to be “all things to all people.”

Polish your resume, compile your news clip portfolio, make sure you have a great digital camera and know how to use it, and do as I did before I became a newspaper editor—make a personal visit to the news or sports editor’s office, and offer your services.

Carpe diem.

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 1:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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