Being trained as a reporter and editor taught me invaluable professional skills, including the ability to look at any situation objectively and analytically. I also ended up marrying the incredibly smart police reporter who sat next to me, which was quite a bonus.
But when I lost my job as a newspaper city editor in 2005, I found myself at a difficult crossroad — one that eventually led me here, to a new career that proved even more exciting and rewarding.
This week, hundreds of other seasoned journalists in Alabama found themselves in the painful situation of being without a job. Advance Publications, owner of three major Alabama daily newspapers and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, cut an estimated 600 jobs, 400 of them in Alabama. Some may be re-hired as the papers restructure to focus on digital, but many will find themselves without work and without a lot of clear options.
I’m not the only ex-journalist here at Luckie, so our team decided to do what we could to help. We’ve launched a project called #ALNewsJobs, a grassroots effort to find and share good job openings for all those affected by this week’s layoffs.
You can help by following @ALNewsJobs on Twitter and Liking ALNewsJobs on Facebook. Of course, you can help even more by sharing great job openings that could be a good fit for the diverse array of talented writers, editors, designers, photographers and others now available for hire.
This project has already gotten great support within the community, and we hope to see that grow. Helping one person find a job is a monumental task these days. Helping 400 people is all the more daunting.
But it can be done. Not by one small group alone, but by a community that earnestly cares about neighbors, colleagues and friends. A community that’s willing to repay those who’ve kept us informed and connected, with few perks beyond the pride of a byline.
This is a painful moment for Alabama. But this state is home to the best storytellers in the nation, and that’s not going to change. What is going to change is the woefully narrow perception many companies have of journalists and their value.
Hiring a journalist isn’t an act of charity. It’s an investment that will pay off for your organization with greater productivity, innovative problem-solving and outstanding professional ethics.
Now let’s go find some good jobs for some great people.