Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 ending nearly as painfully as it began

I was reminded this week what a tremendously disappointing, disheartening and generally sad year this has been, and I suppose it’s only fitting that what started in disappointment should end that way, too.

That’s not to disregard the abundant blessings throughout 2011 — the encouragement and support of family, friends, former colleagues and new professional acquaintances online, to say the least — was beyond anything I would have hoped for or imagined.

But to this date in my nearly 53 years, I can say with reasonable confidence that 2011 been the worst year of my life. I am sick of it, I am tired of it. I am ready for this damned year to hurry the hell up and end.

I learned today that a position for which I had high hopes had been filled internally. It is some consolation to know that the main advantage the other individual had was the institutional knowledge one can achieve only from working for a company. I am grateful to have been considered for the position. I also was told the company would keep my resume on file for anticipated openings in the spring.

I cannot afford to wait around for that, but of course, with the job market the way it is, I may have no choice.

In the coming months, however, I will be exploring thoroughly anything, from janitorial work to running a cash register, in an effort to meet my family’s financial needs.

I also will be considering entirely flushing this career and everything that goes with it down the toilet and starting from scratch in something entirely different. That might be just my considerable pain talking at the moment, but I am damned tired of feeling hurt and disappointment even as I try to hold on to some semblance of optimism. Even more so, this has been such a high price for my family to pay. It was bad enough the last three years I worked, watching round after round of layoffs, seeing good people hurt by an industry and profession they have loved. But over these years, my family has paid a high price, too.

From that perspective alone, it has been very difficult not to become angry with the bumbling corporations that have run the industry into the ground with little thought for the future. They were only too eager to suck in 20 percent profit margins while the economy was good and there was no other game in town. There was little thought given to the technological changes that started looming on the horizon in the late 1980s. As the Internet gained prominence in the 1990s, newspapers saw profit margins narrow, a decline compounded by first one recession in 2001, and then the Great Recession of 2008.

As new businesses sprouted up all around in the digital world, creating their own business models, newspapers bumbled time and again, trying to make the Internet work like a newspaper and expressing only frustration when they failed. I personally would like to see all the executives who made those decisions fired and sued for malfeasance. But corporate America appears to resemble so closely the Dilbert principle in action that that kind of accountability appears institutionally extinct.

The industry may recover some day, but those in charge have bungled things so badly over the past 15 to 20 years in particular that it is difficult to be optimistic about myself having a place in that recovery. Once I step into another job, I will be setting aside the skills I need to continue in news work, which will make me that much more eminently unemployable in the profession I truly love.

Pardon me if I seem angry and hurt and pessimistic at the moment. I apologize, sincerely. My faith tells me I should not be, that I should trust God, and ultimately I do and will. But right now I am bitterly disappointed and so weary of this. I cannot imagine how some have struggled in this kind of situation for three or four years. This one has been rough enough.