This past Friday at 2:36pm I walked out of the Duluth News Tribune and sat down in my car. I watched my photo editor Bob King, photographer Clint Austin and some fellow reporters walk back into the building. I wasn’t leaving for an assignment, but instead had just been laid off.
It wasn’t unexpected. Our paper is covered by a union, which gives us decent benefits and a nice wage for the size of our newspaper, but it also means that layoffs must come in a reverse-seniority order and after two previous rounds of layoffs, my number came up.
I ended my DNT career by shooting my favorite type of assignment: Prep Sports. It was Duluth East vs. Elk River for the sectional title and a trip to the state tournament.
That’s me in the red circle as the Greyhound bench celebrates its first trip to state since 2005. I made some nice images, some of which will be in that hockey post I was promising last week before all this happened.
A lot of people have asked me what it’s like to get layed off so here goes. Your executive editor asks you to meet him in the Marketing Conference Room, which after three rounds of layoffs evokes different feelings for those being led there than a mere meeting. You sit around a table with some people from the parent company, your union representative and other higher-ups at the paper and they tell you it’s time to go and what they are doing, but it’s pretty obvious. The messages are pretty robotic, sympathetic and quick. You can’t go back to your desk to get your camera, jacket and all the other things that accumulated in your space for the past two years. Instead your boss brings down the things you need right now in a box and then after a few goodbyes you have the entire afternoon for yourself. The next day you get escorted back into your former place of employment and immediately feel strange even though it’s a place you would come in on your days off because it was fun. Then you pack up your stuff into a bigger box than the one you left with the day before and with your workspace barren, you leave. And if you’re me, you are back working for the newspaper and the parent company that just cut you loose at the state boys hockey tournament in St. Paul.
It still seems like an extended vacation because I’ve been shooting every day since I was let go. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I am going to try to get a job in the Duluth area and see what happens from there. My new website and this blog were started because I knew my chances of getting cut were pretty good and I wanted to have something ready to go in case that moment came. The morning that I got laid off, I submitted the “Go Live” request for that new website. Perfect timing!
I am going to keep shooting sports and other things. I’ll be shooting sectional basketball this next week because it makes for good images and because I find it fun. I am going to try to ramp up the number of weddings I take on and try to get that side of the business going, but in the immediate future I am just going to relax for a few weeks, eat some QDoba, lots of yogurt and jello and visit some old friends. The predicament I’m in is nothing special. People have been getting cut for longer than I’ve been alive and more people have been cut in the past year than any year I can remember.
So what does this all mean!?!? Good question. I just know I won’t be hitting anymore “Go Live” buttons anytime soon.