August 5, 2008

Beyond the buyout, beyond the bylines for journalists

I started this list of things to help me know others went on to new careers after the newsroom. Some left early, some left later. All are still living. Some happily every after.

Let's start with the St. Louis Magazine that took a look at 20 who left in 2005 in: They took the buyout and now some provide a community site that has moved.

Some choose to write out on their own. Here are two:
  • Mike Himowitz writes MikePluged In (Updated: In April 2009, we learned he's now deputy managing editor of MedPage Today, an online site that brings breaking medical news to doctors and medical professionals.
  • Downing's Views j are those of a journalist turned blogger. He often writes of politics, but he expands the topics sometimes.

Blog helps track ex-workers

A number of journalists from the Toronto Sun keep up with each other and the newspaper at the Toronto Sun Family blog.

Some folks move on - a film on the effects of buyouts. Update: The DVD is available now. The film description says "takes viewers inside disheartened newsrooms to document the devastation and into the community to learn what readers think of journalism’s fate."

A former newspaper photographer, Heather S. Hughes, writes about what he doesn't miss now that she's a wedding photographer.
"I don’t miss putting my heart and soul (and personal time) into a story that I thought was important to tell, only to see the photos never run in print and get posted online three days late, while getting no feedback or appreciation from anyone."
She also wrote about starting your own business, sharing what she learned in creating her photography business.

Former newspaper columnist and Hugo Award winner John Scalzi tells Eat, Sleep and PublishGood writers will always make a living Meanwhile, he's blogging at Whatever.

Find your own description

Some find different words to label the separation - hey, I've gotten used to buyout-funded sabbatical for me.
"Today begins what I call my "Katharine Weymouth Fellowship," and what the Post calls a "voluntary retirement incentive package." It was announced a scant month after the new publisher took over in February. This was her first buyout, but the paper's third in five years, owing to declining circulation and tanking ad revenue"

says Annie Groer in After the buyouts, the goodbye.
"In return for leaving, I got an adequate chunk of cash, an inadequate pension and a shot at re-invention. (Insert cheery boilerplate here...."I look forward to this new chapter of my life. I have several projects and a book to finish blah blah blah.")"

What some co-buyout-ers from the Washington Post are doing:
  • Sue Schmidt is now at the Wall Street Journal
  • Rick Weiss join the Center for American Progress.

The Huffington Post has more details, including photos.

Making your place in the world

And though Joe Grimm of the Detroit Free Press hasn't even left yet, he certainly has put together an afterlife with books on diverse topics like folk music and newspaper images, a blog on online recruiting and a visit to his first unconference. (Update: Joe left, started teaching in August 2008 at Michigan State University, among other things.)

When the paychecks stop, inspiration might come from this post on tips for being on the dole. Besides learning that beagles do not make good assistants, you'll learn about setting up your office and where to spend your time. (Hint: Networking). SB Anderson has started his own company since writing the post.

Watch out for you

Or perhaps a reminder to focus on self care when cutting the corporate cord.

Leaving the Working World? Watch Out For PISS: Post-Institutional Stress Syndrome by Elizabeth Coleman.

This post was updated Aug. 3, 2009, to update links and where some folks are today.

Stalking or starving? Your status now

I remember watching two men watching me, tracking me. In some shadows, my heart can still race.

I eagerly await status of folks I rarely see, partly for assurances they are still there, partly for a pause that refreshes.

Is the craving to know stalking? Or just starving for interaction?

Two bloggers I follow write about seemingly separate ideas, but somehow my mind links them to this stalking/starving idea.

Louis Gray outlines a relationship highlighting why being polite may not always be right as he talks about a potential web friendship that turned bad.

Gray was being polite and answered a number of comments, emails. But he watched a relationship with potential sour as the man's attitude changed. Without knowing the other person - did he expect more speedy responses? was he misled by the intimacy the internet can create? did he forget that text leaves no room for body language?

Over on GotBeeler, there's the sharing of Facebook statuses as an art. He cites some folks he thinks have a knack for using a 140 characters or so for delivering a universal truth, a puzzle of words that promote a smile, a combination that makes you pause to ponder.

As I read through his choices, I realize that I'd like to follow some folks so that I could benefit from these pearls. Yet, in no way, could I ask them to be my Facebook friends.

It helps me realize, though, how I do count on some people for their updates - David Armano who reminds me of the pleasure of motorcycle riding and enjoying life, Michael Stobbe whose puns make me groan, Hassan Hodges who shares the delights of a growing child and changing workplace. Beeler too.

In describing the artful way some update their statuses, Beeler notes that some rely on their children for help. And though Beeler moans that his children don't give him clever lines, I realize that all children do - it is just that some of us don't recognize the good lines. Or know how to use them.

Beeler notes:

"These artists take the mundane update of where they are or what they are doing and routinely add a li’l somethin’ somethin’ to it. They make checking status updates every 5 minutes worthwhile."

So, inside out, is it stalking if you only read statuses and rarely contribute your own? Is it stalking to add strangers you know only via their blogs or web postings? Is it stalking to add colleagues from across the miles when you know there will never be a face to face meeting?

Or is it starving for a link to someone else, a safe relationship with low expectations.

August 4, 2008

Now what? Potential helicopter mom worries about fillling empty nest

My daughter wants to come back to Flint.

And once again, my copy of Dr. Spock's baby book seems to be missing the chapter that could prevent me from becoming the next helicopter parent. (You know, the parent who hovers over her child to ensure all is right with her world. You can do that to a 24-year-old, right?)

Broken promises in the workplace had started her thinking about next moves. Her boyfriend's work week was slashed from full time to 32 hours. Her company opened stores in other communities, but no work was done on what was to be her store. Weekly crisis mean no time for her to do different things.

At first, the questions revolved around the delicate balance of seeking new jobs as a newcomer in a small town without losing your present jobs.

Then, the focus switched to a new job in a state with work. Texas? Nevada? Massachusetts?

I thought the rumblings of returning to Michigan were the after effects of her recent nine-hour road trip here. Good times with family and friends filled the brief visit.

Scheduling the rest of her vacation time led her to realize she would not be here for the family reunion, Thanksgiving or Christmas. She would miss more memory-making times.

It is another memory sparked by a Facebook status update of two girls returning home from camp that helps me understand what's really happening. My daughter may live somewhere else, but Flint, Michigan, is still home.

I remember the first postcards from summer camp, the ones that plead to be picked up now, that beg to be rescued from a miserable life, that assure us her counselors are the meanest people in the whole world.

Then, I knew the proper response was to wait for the homesickness to pass. By the end of camp, this sad experience would become the best days of her life.

Now, I'm not sure if I should keep encouraging her to find a job first or invite her to crash here while searching for a job within commuting distance.

Do I listen to Spock once again, knowing I won't "spoil the child" by picking her up when she cries (silently this time) or listen to the elders who suggest strength develops when children learn to soothe themselves?

I replay a comment from yesterday's family reunion:

"It's hard for someone who doesn't come from a family like yours to understand the loneliness of being far away."

The observation slips in as we note who is at the reunion and who is not. Record numbers are set when a couple with five kids make their first appearance. But another record is set because for the first time two of my mother-in-law's grandchildren are missing because they live out-of-state. Both have called their parents, requesting reunion updates and sad that they will not be at the township hall.

In my family, I go months without seeing anyone from my family, weeks without calls, days without Facebook updates or emails. My husband calls his mother almost daily, commutes frequently with his oldest brother, and sees all of his siblings at least once a week.

Perhaps it is because since 1975 my family has been scattered across states and until 2007, all of his family lived within 20 minutes of each other.

Is it that difference in families or a fear of helicopters that allows 474 miles to separate my daughter and I?

Is it time to change my line from get a job first to what are you waiting for - an engraved invitation?

Is it past time to make room in my home to match the room in my heart?

After all, my daughter wants to come home.