In June, Rogers Media announced it was laying off 75 full-time staff as part of a reorganization of its digital and publishing teams. Krista Hessey was one of several employees who were cut. The first thing she did? Tweet about it.
“I hadn’t even left the Rogers building yet before I sent the tweet out,” she says. Hessey was a video producer at Maclean’s. Shortly after, she got a job at Vice as an Associate Producer in August.
For Hessey, sharing the devastating loss over social media was a no-brainer.
“Someone actually said to me [after I got laid off] ‘Congratulations, you’re finally a journalist.’”
Statement from Rogers Media on layoffs of approx 75 people. pic.twitter.com/MqqVPM9I36
— emily jackson (@theemilyjackson) June 14, 2018
Every time a round of layoffs happens in journalism everyone with staff jobs is like HIRE THESE BRILLIANT ANGELS. And while that is good intentioned and kind, there are absolutely no jobs available.
— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) September 4, 2018
It’s no shock that journalism is precarious. Since the economic recession in 2008, newspapers and print magazines have been folding and downsizing steadily. In 2017 alone, Torstar laid off more than 290 employees and closed 37 papers, while this year, there have been a number of job cuts at media conglomerates Rogers and Postmedia.
These big layoffs are part of the reason Laura Hensley, Global News’ National Lifestyle reporter, believes so many journalists are willing to share the unfortunate news online. “People who maybe got laid off in a one-off or on a smaller scale, I notice don’t share it as commonly,” Hensley says. She was previously employed at Flare, a publication under Rogers Media, until June 2018. “There’s some comfort in sharing [when it’s affected a lot of people] because it’s less personal.”
This sucks. If you’re in the audio business, run don’t walk to hire @juliastmi, @megandetrie and @alexlaughs, three extremely talented people who work unbelievably hard and make great stuff. https://t.co/aUdBicABzC
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) September 19, 2018
Today was my last day at Rogers. I loved working with my @FLAREfashion family and will miss my talented colleagues at @Chatelaine. Going away for a few days, but will get back to deep investigative celebrity journalism when I return. Email me for any writing or editing needs ❤️
— Laura Hensley (@LolaHensley) June 14, 2018
While Hensley does not think tweeting about her layoff is how she got her new job at Global, she says tweeting can still be a way to get attention from potential employers.
“I do think that being open about the fact that you’re looking for a job can lead to opportunities that you may not have known about,” she says. Hensley received leads from various writers and editors for positions she was qualified for. “I think it’s more so about putting yourself out there, but I don’t think anyone would hand you a job because you tweeted about it.”
A positive and supportive environment online is a major selling point for publicizing such a personal event. It also amounts to informing your audience about changes to their content, Hessey says. “I gained a lot of followers in the last few years and I wanted to let them know that the videos we were making [at Maclean’s] weren’t going to be made anymore.”
Staying Private vs. Publicizing Layoffs
Former Vice Canada reporter Sarah Hagi penned a piece this year for Hazlitt, titled “The Personal Business of Being Laid Off.” In it, she details how, after being laid off, many friends and colleagues reached out. Still, no full-time job showed itself.
In fact, she deactivated her Twitter account briefly, and mentions in the piece that an editor she was talking to did the same thing post-layoff. “Job scarcity and low pay from traditional media companies means dozens of my former colleagues and peers have pivoted to working for tech companies that are ‘creating content,’ a concept that not many people can define when I ask,” Hagi writes.
Hensley emphasizes that along with being open on social media, journalists should also be open to different kinds of work, even that which isn’t directly related to journalism.
“Some people do communications work for non-profits, or if you’re a video journalist you might want to work in music videos,” she explains. While Hensley says she understands the desire to work in journalism, she stresses that looking for work can potentially become easier with a more open mind. “There’s different options and I think people get really stuck to the idea that they have to work in a newsroom, for a news organization.”
And Twitter isn’t just a space to document one’s layoff moment. Hessey says that Twitter can be a space for journalists to simply share positive information as well. “Yeah, I tweeted right away about my layoff, but I also tweeted when I got my new job.”