FIRST PERSON | Certain dates tend to stick with you.
They can run the gamut from joyous occasions -- birthdays, anniversaries or graduations to not so joyous moments, such as the death of a loved one or a job loss.
For me, Oct. 1 marked one of those sad moments. It was the day I learned my nearly 19-year career as a copy editor/page designer at The (Harrisburg, Pa.) Patriot-News was coming to an end.
In late August, the newspaper announced it would reorganize to form two companies and that beginning Jan. 1, the newspaper would publish print editions on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. It would focus instead on expanding its online news presence.
The announcement, while surprising, didn't come as a shock. Industry-wide decline in newspaper circulation has been rampant in recent years, and The Patriot-News hasn't been immune. About 70 jobs, and eight on the copy desk, were lost in the editorial department. Fortunately, the paper offered a generous severance. Each employee received one and a half weeks' pay for every year they had been at the paper.
Twenty years ago, the paper's Sunday circulation was 176,000. Today, that number is down to 118,000.
So for six weeks, from the August announcement to Oct. 1, employees waited to learn their fate. To say it was a difficult time would be an understatement.
Those of us on the copy desk knew our positions were in jeopardy. Management had made that clear at the original meeting, but it never gave specifics about the number of employees who would lose their jobs on Oct. 1.
But it stood to reason if the paper was going to reduce the number of days it published, it didn't need as many copy editors.
I find it interesting that when the Internet Age took hold in the 1990s, many predicted the newspaper industry to be an early casualty. In reality, it's lasted longer than maybe it had a right to.
But now, 20 years later, print media is indeed an endangered species thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Print media has become digital media.
And at age 57, I'm an old-school journalist. I haven't embraced modern journalistic technology. Do I have a Facebook page and Twitter account? Yes. Do I use them? Not as much as I should.
Today, reporters are multimedia journalists. Many journalism schools are teaching how to use Twitter and Facebook in reporting and how to shoot video at a news event. If you want to stay in the business, these skills are necessary.
It's a new world that's not for me. It's as simple as that. So this York, Pa., resident is heading outdoors. I plan to turn my hobby as a backyard gardener into a new career by working at a nearby garden center. The pay won't compare to what I made at the newspaper (in fact, it's probably about half), but as a friend said, if you love what you're doing, the money will take care of itself.
While I've been unemployed since the new year, the timing of my newspaper exit was beneficial because garden shops begin to hire in late winter. It's given me time to look for such a job, and fortunately, I was able to land one.
I can't wait to start digging in the dirt.
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