Applying For Your Own Job, Hoping You Get It

journal news

As companies cut costs to battle through the recession, stories of nightmare layoffs are continuing to bear down on American workers.

Most recently, a shake-up at a local New York newspaper is bringing a sorry case of deja vu for nearly 300 people. This week, staffers at The Journal News, a daily newspaper based in Westchester County, N.Y., were told that they'd have to apply for jobs at the paper all over again -- and that, no matter what, at least 70 of them would be fired.

They have until the end of the day Friday to submit job applications as part of a restructuring plan announced Wednesday and will be interviewed for the jobs next week.

The decisions on who stays and who will be laid off are due in two weeks.

"We're all pretty devastated," a reporter who declined to be identified told

But, the reporter said, "We're just going on the way we always do. We still have to put a paper out."

As the newspaper industry continues to struggle with declining circulation and declining advertising revenues, layoffs have become nearly the norm industrywide. Michael J. Fisch, the president and publisher of The Journal News, said asking employees to apply again for jobs are part of efforts by the paper to focus more on its Web site.

The jobs they'll be applying for, he said, will include more of an emphasis on Web site work. Fisch said 70 employees -- 50 in the newsroom and 20 in advertising sales -- will be laid off when the jobs are filled.

"The business is changing and its changing rapidly," Fisch said. "We need to embrace and integrate these skill sets that will support a multi-platform approach to what we do."

The dismal scenario facing Journal News staffers may still be slightly better than the one that hit staffers at the Baltimore Sun in April. Three of them were covering a game between the Orioles and Los Angeles Angels when they were informed that they were being laid off.

"They got me over the phone, while I was at the Orioles-Angels game ... It's a complete bloodletting there right now," one of the journalists, sports columnist David Steele, wrote in an e-mail to colleagues, according to Journal-isms, a column published on the Web site of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

The three were among 61 who were laid off at the newspaper, which is owned by the Chicago-based Tribune Co., the media giant that filed for bankruptcy protection in December.

But the newspaper job cuts spree aren't the only cringe-worthy layoff stories in the headlines: the Wisconsin State Journal reported in April that a hospital manager at Dean Health System in Madison, Wisc., violated medical protocol by pulling a nurse out of a minor surgical procedure to tell her she'd lost her job.

"Clearly there was an error in judgment on the part of the manager conducting the layoff," said Dean Health spokesman Paul Pitas in a statement to

Such errors in judgment may be occurring more frequently as the recession continues to force companies to slash jobs.

"You hear these stories and you think, 'What terrible people are doing this firing?'" said Jenny Schade, the president of JRS Consulting, a management and marketing consulting firm in Chicago, recently told "I think what it comes down to is everyone feels so uncomfortable in this situation. No one wants to fire anybody. They feel uncomfortable, so they goof up."

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