The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for which I’ve worked for 14 years and written my column for a decade, offered buyouts to the entire staff in late December, with a get-out-if-you’re-going deadline of New Year’s Eve. Happy holidays.
I weighed my joblessness in a vile economy against the grim prospects of a struggling business in a struggling industry, and I decided that taking a flying leap into the unknown of my own volition was marginally preferable to sticking it out and waiting for the ax.
I have no job lined up. I have some freelance prospects and friends who will help me; I have a pretty good network, and I’ve received many suggestions, business cards, names scribbled on the backs of envelopes and a truly touching amount of support and encouragement. I plan to keep writing my column, but I also plan to explore all the new directions I could go in now, all the doors that open off my role as columnist that I never had the time or energy or focus to open when I was tied to the newsroom grind.
My point is this: I know I’m just a statistic. NSNC members everywhere are facing similar decisions, weighing similar options, fearing uncertain, vaguely unpleasant futures in their jobs and wondering what other irons they should be sticking in the fire. I’m not special.
And this is why we all need to get ourselves to Ventura in 2009 for our conference: This is exactly what we’re going to be talking and learning about. We’ve got an amazing roster of speakers who will help that blurry future brighten up and come into sharper focus. You don’t know what you’d do if you lost your job? That’s curable. And those of you already living the self-directed adventure of a freelancer, entrepreneur, blogger, new-media pioneer … you could use some fresh ideas, and some nervous newspaper person could use your example. Ventura 2009 is not a wake, and it’s not a pep rally: It’s a professional development workshop.
Find a way to be there. I know I will. Where else are we going to get access to that kind of brain trust — and be at the beach?