It’s easy to think of the WordCount Blogathon as an extra, something to do in your spare time because it’s challenging or fun. But the events of the past 24 hours show exactly why writers should be dead serious about blogging and classes, activities or events like the Blogathon that build up your blogging skills.
Yesterday, the Oregonian daily newspaper announced a major reorganization to move the 163-old company from a print-first operation to a digital-first news provider. Today, reports are trickling out that the company has laid off 35 of its staff, including at least a handful of reporters.
What are those reporters going to do for work in the future? Whether they go to another staff job at a news organization, work as freelancers or switch to doing PR or marketing for a company or agency, they have to have the skills they need to stay competitive. Today, those skills include blogging, along with shooting photos, video, multimedia storytelling, and using social media.
I started the WordCount Blogathon five years ago to teach myself some of those new skills as I was returning to the workforce after a hiatus to stay home with my kids. Over time, the Blogathon has helped dozens — no hundreds — of other professional writers and journalists learn or improve their blogging and social media skills.
This isn’t meant to be an advertisement for the Blogathon. But it should be a wakeup call. The industry is continuing to change. Jobs that were stable – if not steady – yesterday may be gone tomorrow. Keeping up your skills might not be enough to hang onto a position at a company that’s downsizing or rightsizing to stay relevant in the future. But it could help you find a new one. Or strike out on your own.
More on the Oregonian’s New Direction
A few updates on changes the state of Oregon’s biggest news operation announced on June 20.
Names of some of the Oregonian reporters and columnists who’ve been laid off are starting to circulate, announced either by the paper or the writers themselves. Among them are art critic turned business reporter D.K. Row and environmental writer Scott Learn. Sports writer John Hunt was in Omaha, Neb., covering Oregon State’s appearance in the College World Series, when he got the news. He tweeted not long after:
— John Hunt (@JHuntweet) June 21, 2013
Sports writer turned music writer Ryan White closed a bittersweet and typically funny farewell note on his Tumblr blog, saying:
And since I only plan on doing this once, IF any of you happen to be in positions that allow you to hire, AND you need someone who can type, I can type. With both hands. All proper and stuff. None this hunt and peck crap. I mean it. I’m good at the typing.
Today is for the hangover. Monday is back to the office. There’s a Blues Festival special section to produce, and a lot of cool music coming out between now and Aug. 30. After that, I guess I’ll be the guy at the show without a notebook.
Donations toward a bar tab for Oregonian newsroom employees opened at Higgins, a restaurant across the street from the paper’s downtown office, hit at least $3,500, according to reports on Twitter and Facebook. A Higgins representative said the restaurant will keep the tab going for the coming week. Here’s more:
@romenesko Don’t know if you have news yet-ppl wanting to contribute to bar tab/food fund for Oregonian staff, call Higgins: (503) 222-9070.
— Suzi Steffen (@SuziSteffen) June 20, 2013
This Week’s Other Good Reads
I was paid $12.50 an hour to write this story (The Awl) – Lamentations about the current state of the freelance writing business. Bottom line — you can still make it but you have to work your way up, you have to work really hard, and you have to be willing to do work you might not be that interested in doing. Sounds like every journalism job I’ve ever had.
Women’s Magazines Do Serious Journalism – Robbie Myers Editor’s Note (Elle) – The glossy monthly’s editor in chief responds to a story on magazine journalism in U.K. magazine Port called “A New Golden Age” that caused an uproar by famously featured six old white men in the cover shot that went with the story. Women’s mags have been doing serious journalism all along, EIC Robbie Meyers argues, that is, if you can find it hidden amongst the fashion spreads, sex tips and beauty secrets.
How I got fired from the job I invented (AroundtheWorldin80Jobs) – Travel blogger Turner Barr figured out a way to explore the world and write about it. He created a blog called AroundtheWorldin80Jobs to chronicle his travels around the globe doing adventure jobs, hospitality jobs, odd jobs, and volunteer work. Cool, right? So cool that Adecco, the recruiting giant, decided to do the same thing. Barr hadn’t trademarked the name of his site, so Adecco used the identical name to build its own site (with a different domain name), which the company is using to run a contest to give 8 young job seekers a chance to travel around the world and work 10 jobs each. Barr approached Adecco about the campaign some weeks back, but the parties weren’t able to work out a mutually agreeable deal. Adecco proceeded with its campaign. Meanwhile, the travel blogging community is up in arms, and is putting the word out to support Barr. Adecco is using its Facebook page to apologize and explain itself – though if you read the comments, Barr supporters are still as infuriated as ever. Stay tuned – I guarantee you’ll hear more about this.