After getting laid off in April, as part of a cull that was just another nail in the coffin of “traditional” journalism, I was confident I could land something relatively quickly. Well, at least, within a few months. It’s now been five months, and I’m starting to get, well, frustrated.
I’m definitely not alone though. The Labor Department Thursday said the number of laid-off workers applying for benefits dipped to 570,000 from an upwardly revised 574,000 the previous week. And overall, the unemployment rate is 9.7% of all Americans.
Still, there has to be something out there for me: an experienced writer/journalist with eight years under my belt. I’m not writing this as an advertisement, I’m writing this post as a sign that, although things seem to be getting “better” and people’s portfolios have bounced back from the brink, jobs are still a rare commodity.
And they seem to only be getting more scarce, as more of my colleagues and friends get the ax. We’re not all journalists either. Friends of mine in film, television, urban planning, development and law have all lost work in the last six months. It’s gotten to the point where the gym and park are more crowded at 2:30pm on Tuesday afternoons than at noon on a Sunday.
Now I know the employed folks out there are saying: “Oh, poor you. You’re drawing unemployment and get to go to the park at 2:30pm on a Tuesday.” Well, yes I do. But when that’s the big activity for the day, every day, it starts to get frustrating.
So I’ve turned to my most basic of American instincts and searched for a way I can be entrepreneurial. Open a business, I think. Start a Web publication, my mother tells me. Go back to school, my father says. “I always thought you’d be a good lawyer.” No thanks, I respond.
But at some point, after having tried everything I know, including networking with friends’ parents, going to job fairs, working for free, starting a Web site, meditating, volunteering and cooking new recipes, I have to throw my hands up and ask “What else is there for me to do?”
I’m not God. I can’t make the economy improve with a snap of my fingers – not that God even cares how the American economy is doing on September 10, 2009. I hope that God has bigger problems on his/her/its plate than worrying about me. But it would be nice to have some sense of control during these turbulent times.
Taking a step back though, I realize I do have some control. This is only a temporary situation, and it’s a good lesson about the profession I’ve chosen: writers aren’t always in demand. I’ve also learned that journalism, and more broadly writing, is a constantly evolving art, so that means I have to be just as dynamic.
I’ve started twittering, even though I hate it, I’m getting more Web savvy via videos and producing slide shows, and I’m leaning toward getting a PDA. I also got a Flip video camera, so I can video and write about events moments after they happen.
Still, I miss going into the daily newspaper environment, talking to my editor and having him/her telling me what’s on the menu for today’s coverage. I hope to get back in the game sooner rather than later, before editors, writers and all “traditional” media disappear!
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