The Times will make 20 compulsory redundancies after completing its voluntary redundancy scheme. Forty editorial staff took voluntary redundancy. Details of where further cuts will be made will be announced in 48 hours, according to the Guardian.
This is the first post in a series from an anonymous UK-based journalist recently made redundant. To follow the series, you can subscribe to this feed.
You can also read posts by our previous ‘Redundant Journalist’ blogger at this link.
As every hack out there knows, journalism is one of the toughest professions to crack. It’s up there with becoming the Pope, a pilot or a pop star. (I’m being glib – winning X Factor would be far easier.) But seriously, it’s a gruelling process getting a job in journalism.
Twenty-three days and four hours ago I was made redundant from a hard-won job I dearly loved as staff writer on a consumer magazine. The big ‘R’ meant the magazine lost its funding and we were all out on our ears in a matter of weeks.
To make matters worse, it was my first staff job following a backbreaking four months of NCTJ training. I guess it was a wake up call to the harsh reality of the industry.
There was a tortuous period of uncertainty when we thought we had a buyer for the magazine, but I received my P45 last week, and nothing says it’s over like a note from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
As for a redundancy package… well, let’s just say I won’t be lunching at The Wolseley.
Think you’re not entitled to any money? You are. The government provides a certain amount of statutory redundancy pay, although it’s not readily advertised. I’d advise checking out this government website if your employer has also become insolvent.
It’s largely jargon-free and tells you who to contact to recover any outstanding wages and holiday pay, etc. It’s worth knowing that you are entitled to some sort of payout even if you haven’t been continuously employed by the company for two or more years.
Don’t expect miracles overnight – I’m still waiting for my forms from the insolvency practitioner, but I’ll let you know how I get on later in this blog series.
It’s daunting to think about going through the whole rigmarole of applying for jobs again. But while the process of sending off round after round of CVs is utterly depressing, it’s not half as depressing as the prospect of there being no jobs to apply for at all.
According to a story in Press Gazette published in May, the amount of journalists claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance from April 2008 to April 2009 leapt from 770 to 1,880. That’s an increase of almost 150 per cent in one year and only takes into account those on benefits.
There simply aren’t enough jobs to go round and with print media in freefall (thelondonpaper’s on its way out and the Observer’s future is under consideration) the outlook for us jobless journalists is far from rosy.
But if there is one thing I have learned as a journo, you must never ever give up, and with that in mind I’ve decided to use this period of redundancy as an opportunity to reflect on and improve my career.
This blog series will chart my search for a staff job – the applications, the CVs and covering letters, the calling on contacts, the rejections, the interviews and the various attempts to get my foot back in the door.
By sharing tips and anecdotes hopefully this blog will provide support for other unemployed journalists. And if by the end of the series I don’t have a job, at least I’ll know I went down writing.
Inspiring stuff from multimedia journalist Mark S. Luckie, who was made redundant in December last year.
“I thought because of my rare technical skills and demonstrated passion for the job that there was no way I would ever be fired, even though I saw the mass layoffs that were happening all around me. It was a further blow to my ego when I realized that months later I was still unemployed along with thousands of other journalists,” writes Luckie.
But, he says, the downtime has allowed him to hone his craft and ‘share my passion with others’.
“The time away from journalism has helped me find my inspiration, to remember why I am a multimedia journalist in the first place,” he says.
A new blog series which will run until our new guest blogger, who writes on the FleetStreetBlues site, and types really really fast, finds a job or gets too busy to blog. A weeks ago, this update came from FleetStreetBlues:
“A regular FleetStreetBlues contributor, without any warning, just got her marching orders this afternoon. ‘Global downturn… blah blah… smaller issues… blah blah… no advertising… blah blah… nothing we could do.’
“We’ve been writing about it for long enough – redundancies, cut-backs, journalists forced out of the profession they love – so it shouldn’t really come as a shock, but it does.
“And while we know all the things to do – networking, proactive job hunting, polishing your CV – being made redundant brings a whole new set of questions you never even considered. Like when updating the employment section of your CV… What’s a nice way of saying you just got fired?”
The FSB Redundant Journalist will cross-post her updates here. Journalism.co.uk welcomes her to this temporary blogging spot, and wishes her the best of luck in the job hunt. Here’s day one, two and three: more to come.
DAY ONE: I’ve been unemployed for ten days.
It’s Bank Holiday Monday and thankfully, the sun is not shining. This is because I don’t have the luxury of being employed and enjoying such benefits as bank holidays.Technically every day of unemployment is a holiday, but the major downside is that my other half is breathing down my neck to get a new job so I have no choice but to get on with applying. My dreams of being a lady who lunches are yet to be fulfilled. During this recession at least.
Like everyone else, we’ve got our bills to pay, which means that in an industry where a suitable, good new job comes by once in a blue moon, I have had to cast my net further afield.
At first, the thought of going to the dark side, of PR, appalled me. My stomach churned at the thought of proactive PR in particular. But after nearly two weeks of job hunting, I must confess – those jobs are starting to look rather appealing. And it’s not just the pay.
It took me a couple of days to figure out what else I was qualified for, having wanted to be a journalist for most of my life and having work experience in little else, and to find out where to look for alternative jobs, having lived on Gorkana and Journalism.co.uk [Good call. Ed.] for the past three years. But it seems that if nothing else, I’d make a great office assistant.
Don’t mock too much – admin assistants get paid even better than journalists in a lot of cases, and if you’re looking for a stop-gap job to bring home the bacon while you keep an eye out for that lucrative journalism job, why not do something that requires little brain effort, therefore allowing you to save your energy for those applications for jobs you actually would want?
DAY TWO: So last week, I wowed the world with my WPM.’Are you sure that’s your typing speed?’
‘Er, I think so…I did those online typing speed tests.’
‘But are you sure? Most people are 70 words per minute, but 90 words per minute would be super-duper fast (yes, her exact phrase) – legal secretary fast.’
‘Come in and we’ll register you and while we’re at it, we’ll test your typing speed.’
So that’s how I ended up at general recruitment agency number one. And ok, I didn’t wow ‘the world’, but I managed to surprise myself and the agency by proving that I have a touch-typing wpm of 95.
DAY THREE: There’s an emotional curve to redundancy. After I got over the initial shock of being made redundant, the next emotion was anger at the unfairness of the situation, quite closely followed by depression.
I was just a few days into the depression stage, however, when a little spark of hope landed my way – in the form of a freelance commission. On a subject I knew nothing about, but journalism work nonetheless.
Although I’d been unemployed for about just a week by this stage, it’s hard to describe quite how happy I was to be calling people up to interview them for the article.
Mundane as this may seem once you’ve got a journalism job, it also seemed the most natural thing for me to do (after all, it’s what I’ve been doing on a daily basis for the past two years) and it made one thing really clear to me – I’ll never be able to give up journalism for ever. Or at least it will be hard to give up without a fight.
“I’ve seen both sides of the story,” writes Dan Mason, a former regional newspaper editor (Coventry Evening Telegraph and Birmingham Post) and most recently, managing editor of 12 weeklies in London.
His post looks at ‘five things journalists should do now – before they face the threat of redundancy’. “It’s a beginning more than an ending,” he writes.
Firstly, ‘understand the redundancy process clearly BEFORE it starts,’ he says.