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Advice for the jobless hack

Amid the current deluge of news about media layoffs I was deligheted to find Steve Smith back blogging, and that with some good advice to journalists and editors recently made redundant.

Now, Steve - the former editor of Spokesman Review who resigned in protest against a new round of job cuts last fall after six years editing the American regional - has been blogging privately for some months now, and, since I've kept in touch with him via Facebook, it's a bad testament to how little time I spend there that I only discovered this recently.

But be that as it may, if any of you enjoyed News is a Conversation, the blog Steve wrote while at Spokesman, and like me didn't know of his personal blog, the conversation continues over at Still a Newspaper Man - so named after this moving ode he wrote last July.

For my own part, I met Steve when covering a lecture he gave in Oslo 2007 on the transparency projects he famously pioneered at Spokesman, such as webcasting editorial meetings (in Norwegian), and have enjoyed his blog posts, where he frequently combines his experiences from 36 years in journalism with a genuine understanding of how the news industry needs to change to survive, ever since.

Or as he told me in Oslo: "It's the journalism that counts, not the medium. Preserving the medium is a false desire. All you can preserve is the journalism and the value to the community you serve." But I digress, I was going to blog about his advice to jobless hacks.

His very first bit of advice is to stop reading the industry news wires and blogs as the news is too discouraging.

Might be a bit detrimental to my own blog if you were to follow up on that, but I promise I'll be posting some more optimistic stuff here soon (in the meantime, if you're fluent in Scandinavian languages, my efforts to create a forum for online journalists, -developers and -enthusiasts last year led to founding The Norwegian Online News Association (NONA) and our blog is mostly focused on innovation, inspiration and online tools).

But back to Steve's advice for the jobless, do read the full post here, I especially liked his conclusion: 

A layoff is a great equalizer. An unemployed editor is as much out of work as the laid off receptionist. All of us have our issues, our reduced expectations, our fears. But we are not defined by our unemployment. We are defined by the work we have done and the work we will do again. We are defined by our values and our commitment to craft. Having been there, I know there is light somewhere ahead. In the end, our commitment and our optimism will see us through.

And, as always, the blog comments offer many gems, including this from David Elton: "Steve, I am begging you. You have some cash in the bank. Your wife is supertalented. Take 4 months and write a darn book about how too few editors have genitalia these days. It takes balls to do what you did and it benefitted our city here in Spokane..."

Also, check out "Laid off? 10 tips for recently unemployed journalists" by Mark Potts and "If you're laid off, here's how to socially network" by Scobleizer


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