Thursday, April 9, 2009

Enough with the dark

When I started this blog I chose the dark template because that seemed appropriate and somber and respectful. Now that the cuts have happened, I think that it is more respectful to those who have left and those who remain to change the look. For all of us, we need to figure out how to get on with things. This is not to make light of the terrible event we have all gone through. The content will not change.

The truth is, I found the white-on-black hard on my eyes. Since I'm the owner, this is a place I can make a change without calling a meeting or assembling a focus group or getting six sets of signatures. Unlike where I work and still draw a paycheck.

Enough with the dark.

Good people want to help

I have heard that previous SPJ events have been useful.


The Fort Worth SPJ pro chapter wants to help. We've put on several "how to survive a layoff" programs for folks from the DMN and Star-Telegram over the last several years, featuring things like financial advice on 401K rollovers. This time we're thinking about organizing a freelancers' "summit" -- probably a half-day program on a Saturday. To do that, we want to hear from you -- what advice or help do you need most? How to handle the finances? Find clients? Negotiate prices? Build a website? Learn new skills? What else?
Please write back and let me know. We will try to build a program around what we hear from you.


Gayle Reaves
(SPJ-Fort Worth board member and editor, Fort Worth Weekly)

Health insurance advice?

I'm not endorsing but a reader writes:
Hi! I am a fellow DMN employee, but I also own a health insurance agency. Undoubtedly those who are affected are going to have concerns and questions about their options, including COBRA subsidy eligibility. Our advice is free and confidential and we would be happy to help anyone who needs answers. Please feel free to direct anyone my way if they would like to speak to someone. And thank you for providing the blog for all of us! It is nice to see everyone coming together to help each other.

Best regards,

Amanda (Carruth) Wray
Tailor Made Insurance
4618 Cedar Springs Road
Suite A
Dallas, TX 75219

214-437-1410 cell
214-558-7908 office

A reminder about the rules

Don't put a name in a comment unless it's yours or it's someone who has posted their own name. I just had to kill an otherwise fine comment because it mentioned someone who sent me a note asking that the name not be there. Let's be extra kind to those who have lost jobs.

Any more people want to leave a farewell note?

If so, I'll put this post on top this morning so you can post a comment here.


As many of you know, I have a hard time saying goodbye. I am usually one of the last ones to leave a party and my “goodbyes” tend to turn into 20-minute long conversations. Perhaps, this is why it’s taken me a couple of days to collect my thoughts and say farewell to so many wonderful friends and colleagues, who are like family to me.

This week, after 12 and a half years in newspapers, I lost my job. People often asked me why I remained in newspapers or if I’d come up with a Plan B yet. My answer was always that I still believed in newspapers and still loved telling stories. I wanted to be part of the solution to keep newspapers alive – even if it meant that content would ultimately be entirely online.

Reading The Dallas Morning News and my hometown newspaper, the Waxahachie Daily Light, was a tradition, a habit in my family. My father, an immigrant from Mexico who spoke no English when he arrived, was curious about this country that everyone called the land of opportunity. He wanted to fit in like everyone else. He struggled with the language, but because of newspapers he learned new words. He would often point out words and ask me about their meaning. When I got older, he’d often ask if I’d read what Dallas or Waxahachie city officials had done or what a particular sports columnist thought about the Cowboys or Rangers.

When I returned to Texas in 2002, after spending more than six years in Florida, my parents were beyond thrilled. They would finally get to see and read their little girl’s stories. My mom sometimes knew where a story of mine ran before I did, because she’d seen the paper first that day.

My parents don’t have much formal education, don’t speak English that well and don’t have much money. But this they value: the importance of newspapers. I hope that my friends and colleagues who are left behind will remember there are many like my parents who still have a thirst for knowledge – regardless of their background.

On Tuesday, when I walked out of the DMN building, the moment seemed surreal. But I have no regrets. I am fortunate to have worked with so many talented people from whom I learned so much. It is truly an honor. I will miss you guys, but I won’t forget all of the valuable things you’ve taught me.

Keep up the great work!

Stella M. Chávez

KERA announces layoffs but says it will be beefing up local content

A reader points out this news release from KERA:


DALLAS/FORT WORTH - KERA announced today that the equivalent of four-and-one-half positions have been eliminated so that resources can be reallocated to other areas within the organization. The positions affected are in volunteer services, data management, education programs and television production.

“We regret that these layoffs were necessary,” said Mary Anne Alhadeff, President & CEO, “but the station is on a course to increase news and public affairs reporting and advance online services consistent with the station’s mission and the needs and interests of our audiences. This reallocation of resources allows the station to maintain its budget and have the resources available for content expansion.”

In the coming months, KERA will implement plans to significantly expand its local radio news and public affairs coverage on KERA 90.1 FM and increase online content and resources.

When it does that expanding, maybe it will need new staff?

Job possibility

A reader writes:
Just got the following from one of my high school friends, Libby McIver. Doesn’t seem like the best fit, but what does? Also, does anyone know whether the Census Bureau is still hiring?

Hi all,

My company is hiring now for a new team dedicated to servicing the Black Card clients.

If you know anyone who has a strong customer service, call center, travel, hotel background, and they are looking for work, they should go to apply. You work from HOME.

From Trey Garrison

Trey writes:
I've been successfully freelancing for six years now, with a year-and-a-half interruption to take a full-time gig at D, which I left a year ago.

If there's enough interest, I'd be willing to give a seminar or whatever you want to call it to any and all former DMN staffers on how to make a living freelancing.

If the crowd is big enough, I figure we could charge a minor fee to cover the cost of an appropriate venue. Maybe even coffee and donuts or whatever. If it's a small group, we could probably find somewhere free to do it.

Figure between the two of us -- and I'd protect your anonymity -- we could organize this sooner rather than later.

If you want to post this to gauge interest, feel free.

Either way, good luck and Godspeed to all our inky brothers and sisters.

I'm still figuring out the details, I don't have a business plan drawn up, and I haven't called the first potential investor, but...

I'm trying to figure out how to make a purely online newspaper focused exclusively on Plano work. Plano is sort of a unique critter -- big enough, tech-friendly enough, and prosperous enough to merit its own independent coverage, but underserved by both the DMN and the Plano Star Courier.

I foresee something that marries video and print, and is primarily enterprise reporting on city issues, cops, local sports, and some lifestyle stuff. Not big on opinion, though there would be a blog, forum, etc.

If there are any Plano-based DMN pink slippers, I'd love to at least touch base with them as I develop this idea, and see what could be reasoned out on how to make this work.

Feel free to pass along.

Trey Garrison

Freelance gig?

From a reader:
I have a client who wants to pay $ 100 dollars per article and it is possible it may be more than 10 articles. Do you know of anybody who would be willing to write these articles? You talked about some people from the Dallas Morning News you may not have a job anymore who may want to write these.

The only thing my client is asking is the person come out to visit with them and take a tour of their facility. Their building is located near Plano Road and Forest.

They would like someone to come out this week or next week.
If you're interested, please e-mail