Tuesday, April 14, 2009

...And the Layoffs/Buyouts Continue...

I am a journalist in the aviation industry, a segment that has been hard hit by layoffs. It seems that every week I'm writing a story about Company X laying off X-thousand employees, blaming the current global economic crisis. I also feel as if I'm reading stories every week on media outlets laying off or buying out employees, including journalists. The latest to announce is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Alternative newspaper Creative Loafing did a blog post yesterday outlining the 74 people who took buyouts.

The Journal-Constitution had previously announced in March it was cutting 30% of its newsroom staff, or around 90 journalists, citing a revenue slump. Officials said they would look for people to volunteer for buyout, then start laying off staff if not enough workers volunteered. The paper has already had two rounds of cuts in 2006 and 2007.

A web site I like to follow -- Paper Cuts -- closely follows newspaper layoffs. Managed by journalist Erica Smith, the site covers layoffs and buyouts going back to 2007, newspapers that have closed and layoff rumors.

These continued attacks on the profession of journalism make an organization like the National Association of Black Journalists even more important, since members of color are bearing a heavy burden as the cuts continue. NABJ's board has worked hard to advocate with media companies about the importance of having a diverse staff, with mixed results.

NABJ VP-Broadcast (and candidate for president) Kathy Times should be commended for all her hard work creating relevant content for NABJ's Media Institute. The Media Institute is focusing on training covering multimedia journalism, entrepreneurship and management training, which is a good start.
But during these most difficult times, the board -- and the membership -- need to step up and create even more programming to ensure that we all remain competitive in an industry under fire. I stand ready to help the board if I am elected as Region II Director.

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