Today sucked for many reasons.
A lot of my journalist friends lost their jobs. An industry I worked for (and still sort of do) really showed its age. A city lost a great dearth of its intellectual soldiery. And all in the matter of hours.
When I started my parental leave from the Edmonton Examiner (which at the time shared a room with the Edmonton Sun) in 2015, I had an inkling I wouldn’t be back. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure (because I could have totally sucked at being a stay at home parent), but I had an inkling.
I knew the newspaper industry wasn’t doing well. Shit, it wasn’t doing well when I graduated from journalism at Grant MacEwan College in 2004 (which was a main reason why I went into the arts and didn’t jump into the the strict journalism world). So, after keeping Little Hell alive during my leave, I went with my gut and put in my resignation*.
I want to make something clear: Journalism isn’t an easily transferrable job. You can’t just go ‘journalist’ somewhere else. The knowledge that is accrued by reporters, not only of a city, but of the vernacular of a city, is a specialization. It’s equal parts linguist and nature interpreter.
You don’t get into journalism for the money. You get into it because is fulfills an informative need. A really weird and freaky informative need. It’s a lifestyle that you get paid really shittily for. It’s filling the empty page space around advertising with your heart and soul and nobody cares about is as much as you do. But, like usual, I’m digressing.
When I decided to stay at home, one of the things Elizabeth talked about would be my ability to freelance write. And so far I’ve made a humble go at it. But after today, the amount of talented writers looking for work will have made this income doubly as hard to find.
But you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way. No, I don’t mean I’m glad that people have lost their jobs, I don’t mean that at all. I mean it more altruistically.
If all these talented writers keep writing, if they remember why they love doing it and continue in whatever form they can, then maybe the writing world will be better for it. Maybe it is a necessary step in the evolution of journalistic expression. To tell stories for the sake of community, of culture. To bring weight back to words.
But, what the fuck do I know? In my opinion, the newspaper industry is an old business model trying to catch up to the present. I had a solution and I was only half joking.
Anyway. I’m lucky to have this blog. To have my wife and child. In all honesty, I’d pump gas for a living and still look forward to getting home to see my family and writing a little.
Adversity as it is an integral ingredient of quality. I’m not a very smart person, but I know this to be true.
*This wasn’t an easy decision. I started with Sun Media (now Post Media) in 2012 as a reporter with the Sherwood Park News. Then, jumped up the road to Fort Saskatchewan as the interim editor of the Fort Saskatchewan Record. After that, I booked it an hour away to Camrose to be the editor of the Camrose Canadian, Then spent a day writing for the Mayerthorpe Freelancer and finally ended up at the Examiner in 2014 when Elizabeth and I decided it would be better to be closer to home when Toddlercop was gestating. I learned a lot and fast. My writing became stronger. I racked up Gladwell’s recently debunked 10 thousand hour rule. I miss parts of it daily.
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You say you’d pump had for a living, but that’s a field that’s all but deceased, too.