Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How Bad Is It Out There? Soooooo Bad.

It's just terrifying, isn't it? The way the world is imploding? Or is it just those of us in the world of publishing and such?

All I know is, each time I send out a press release to our list of media contacts, I get back a good half-dozen new bouncebacks that say something along the lines of, "I no longer work for Big Important Newspaper/Small Important Newspaper/Interesting Magazine. You can now reach me at Some University PR Office/the Local Burger King/the Unemployment Office."

But it's not even safe here in the ivory tower. We've been getting dispatches from the university's president telling us about the hits to the endowment we've taken, and the fears about promised gifts, the money for which may no longer exist in this stock market. Not to mention that there will be fewer gifts coming in in the future, and who knows what's going to happen to all the other sorts of funding we receive?

There are, these missives state uncategorically, going to have to be cuts. Nobody's saying yet what those cuts will be, and how deep, and where. But they will happen. And here I am, just three months into this job and with three months left on probation--which means they could let me go without paying me an extra cent, any time they want, for no reason at all. So, yeah. A little worried here.

Which of course has led me to look around for ways to soften the blow, if it comes. It'd be a huge blow, this being our only source of income. But if I could know that there are places to scurry off to, or if I could start gathering freelance jobs now--god knows my income alone isn't enough for us as it is, Baroy's freelance income is pretty minimal right now, and I've been too busy to search for freelance work to add to it--then I might feel a little less like throwing up 24 hours a day.

So off I went to ProBlogger to see what might be out there for an enterprising not-so-young blogger like me. And there was nothing...well, maybe pennies-a-post stuff that I would qualify for, but really. What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? I mean, so many people make Big Bucks out there in the blogging world. Why can't I find even Little Bucks (as opposed to little pennies)? And yet, I can't. I feel like an outsider in a field--writing, I mean--where I used to be a Big Fish. It's upsetting from an ego perspective, and terrifying from a "what happens if I'm laid off" perspective.

So then off I went to my old friend MediaBistro, to see what sorts of traditional freelance gigs might be in the offing, or even what sorts of jobs are out there, either here or in New York, should worst come to worst. And what I saw made me almost literally gasp out loud. Back in the day, when I'd go look there, I'd be depressed because out of the 1600 to 2000-plus job listings they'd have, only a small handful would be SoCal based. But now...omigod. Look in the left hand column of that link. As of this writing, there are 664 jobs posted TOTAL. Literally less than a third of what I normally would find there. If that isn't a sign of a media apocalypse, I don't know what is.

And, as I was saying to Kristen earlier today, it seems like all this economic illness is getting into people's bloodstreams. Every day, it seems, I have another friend telling me about her cancer diagnosis, her parent's imminent demise, the loss of a baby, the end of a marriage. It just feels ugly out there. Ugly and mean and scary. And whereas in years past I would have been able, at least, to tell myself that that's just my screwed-up neurotransmitters speaking, that's not the case these days. Right now, it's ugly, mean, scary...and real. Very, very real.


Anonymous said...

Maybe we should have been lawyers or dentists or something, just not this.

Hang in there. ;-)

Anonymous said...

LOL I'm a lawyer and we're going through the same thing where I work ;-)


Mary said...

Sometimes, to amuse myself, I look in the Sunday classified ads for job listings for what I do. What I do starts with T, and I used to have to go through a whole section of the paper to get there. Last Sunday, I only had to turn one page. And I'm in Seattle, which so far isn't as bad as the rest of the country. Very scary indeed.

Cindy said...

As I said to my husband recently, "At least we're not investment bankers!" I reflect often on how glad I am that I didn't leave my ivory tower-type that doesn't pay particularly well (great benenfits and a pension) for a higher paying job over the years. Friends used to tell me how dumb this was, but now it's looking a little smart.

We haven't received cost-of-living adjustments or merit increases for several years and aren't expecting any in the years to come, but no one's complaining now, which is sort of a benefit.

If I ever lost my job, I'd probably end up waiting tables. . . .