When journalists become layoff targets

While talking turkey — how the gobble of a turkey became synonymous with straight talk about difficult topics makes no sense to me — with various friends at the Review-Journal this past week, I kept saying, “Keep your head down.”

Then it dawned on me the kind of image I had in mind.

This past Tuesday at a staff meeting everyone was told six top editor positions were being “restructured” into two. A couple of days later when he returned from vacation, the editorial page editor made it seven. He is married to the city editor, so that potentially leaves a family with a high-school-aged child minus two bread winners. Really thoughtful of them.

Many of the people I was talking to feared that, despite assurances to the contrary, that they could be next. Thus my advice to keep a low profile, which is rather hard to do by the very nature of their high-profile, often controversial jobs.

The image that kept creeping into my mind was one of going to Thanksgiving turkey shoots as a child. Not the ones like today where you shoot at targets and the winner gets a frozen bird. No, those used live turkeys corralled behind an earthen embankment just high enough that the shooter could see nothing of the birds until they raised their heads. That was the target.

This video clip from the movie “Sargeant York” is not meant to make light of the situation at the newspaper, but to illustrate the career deadly seriousness of how management is making the people who made the paper what it was — not is — feel like targets.

18 comments on “When journalists become layoff targets

  1. Athos says:

    I forgot how powerful that movie was, Tom. That’s back when our country was populated by men of virtue.

    Thank you. And God Bless those that lost their jobs at the RJ. Good thing God is the source, and not some pinheads with titles, eh?

  2. Actually, one of the things that made York such a complex character is that he was very religious and had lost his father, so he could’ve avoided the draft as either a sole bread winner or as a conscientious objector.


  3. Athos says:

    The “Bible” vs a history book of the United States, loaned to him by his superior officer. And the reasoning given by York to go to war, comprising the two books.

    Major Buxton: York, What do you suppose Boone that was looking for when he went out into the wilderness?
    Alvin: Well, I never thought much on it.
    Major Buxton: Was he looking for new lands?
    Alvin: Might be.
    Major Buxton: Maybe, maybe for something more, something that a man just can’t see with his eyes, or hold in his hands. Something that some men don’t even know they have until they’ve lost it.
    Alvin: Yes, sir?
    Major Buxton: To be free. Now that’s quite a word, “Freedom” — I think that’s what he wanted. I think that’s what sent Boone into your Tennessee country.
    Alvin: That… that what this here book’s about?
    Major Buxton: Yep. That’s the story of a whole people’s struggle for freedom, from the very beginning until now — for we’re still struggling. It’s quite a story York, how they all got together and set up a government, whereby all men were pledged to defend the rights of each man, and each man to defend the the rights of all men. We call that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

    Priceless. If kids HAD to watch anything in school (Algore’s big lie??), Sergeant York, starring Gary Cooper (and Walter Brennan) should be 1st on the list.

  4. York’s own words:

    “NOVEMBER 17, 1917 Camp Gordon: I was placed in the 21st training battalion, and there I was called out the first morning of my army life to police up in the yard all the old cigarette butts, and I thought that was pretty hard, as I didn’t smoke. But I did it just the same.

    “I had never traveled much before going to camp. I had never been out of the mountains before, and I’m telling you I missed them right smart down there in that flat, sandy country. And my little old mother and Pastor Pile wanted to get me out. Pastor Pile put in a plea to the government that it was against the religion of our church to fight; and that he wanted to get me out on these grounds. And he sent his papers up the War Department, and then filled them out and sent them to me at the camp and asked me to sign them. They told me all I had to do was to sign them. And I refused to sign them, as I couldn’t see it the way Pastor Pile did. My mother, too, put in a plea to get me out as her sole support. My father was dead and I was keeping my mother and brothers and sisters. And the papers were fixed up and sent to Camp Gordon and I was asked to sign them. But I didn’t sign them.I knew I had plenty of brothers back there that could look after my mother, that I was not the sole support, and I didn’t feel I ought to do it. And so I never asked for exemption from service on any grounds at all. I never was a conscientious objector. I am not today. I didn’t want to go and fight and kill. But I had to answer the call of my country, and I did. And I believed it was right. I have got no hatred toward the Germans and I never had.”



  5. Jim Day says:

    These people weren’t laid off — they were s**t-canned.

  6. See previous blog, Jim.


    How are you doing? You still in town?


  7. Michael Hiesiger says:

    A Jim Day sighting? Amazing.
    I started getting text messages about an hour before the staff meeting. Another great day for the RJ. Guess they should be happy they didn’t just put them all into an arena and let everyone fight to the death for the two positions they will be keeping.

  8. Athos says:

    The “Hunger Games” at the RJ. Great sport, what?

  9. Vernon Clayson says:

    I don’t get the connection with WWI Sergeant York and some people getting “excreted” from a near moribund newspaper but aside from that I have to say there are millions of our fellow citizens that have served, and are serving, in the military so there are men, and women, that rate up there with Sergeant York without being celebrated as heroes. Gary Cooper wasn’t Alvin York and George C. Scott wasn’t George Patton. A couple of days ago two of our soldiers were shot and killed by a dull degenerate Afghan Muslim they thought they were befriending and training as an ally, that’s much worse than being fired. Being fired at can be fatal but being fired, while a surprise, isn’t fatal.

  10. Don’t give them any ideas, Michael.


  11. Jim Day says:

    Yes, still in town, but only until the house is sold. Haven’t been able to make a dime since I was “excreted” by the R-J 18 months ago. Turns out the guy at DETR was right when he told me I was
    considered “unemployable.”

  12. I was told by DETR downplay my years of experience because no one want older and experienced employees, Jim. Let me know where you land and contact info.


  13. Steve says:

    Darn good move letting those editors go.


  14. […] Perhaps Everson will heed the advice I gave to R-J staffers nearly a year ago about keeping your head down. […]

  15. […] As I advised back when the heads of longtime R-J staffers were rolling like wooden balls in the Bingo tumbler: Keep your head down! […]

  16. […] At least, unlike so many others with decades of experience as reporters and editors at the Review-Journal, she has a job for now. But she and all those who remain will have to remember to keep dodging the wrecking ball and hope the boss doesn’t have some crony from L.A. or Denver who wants your job. Good luck, Jane Ann. Keep your head down. […]

  17. Mickie says:

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the finest websites online.
    I most certainly will recommend this blog!

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