Thursday, 17 December 2009

Cutback Casualty 4

This is Cutback Casualties Week at TSF, representing a decade of Quebecor cutbacks at Sun Media newspapers and at former Osprey Media newspapers since 2007.

We invite former employees affected by the massive Black Tuesday staff cuts last December, or any other layoffs and firings, to update TSF on their post-Quebecor lives. E-mail your stories to TSF.

Ian Harvey, a 2001 casualty, writes:

"I knew it was coming. I was officially working on the side, though I was actually in the Sun newsroom running, which was supposed to be the Sun's local portal on canoe.

"No one had a clue what we were doing. I never once saw a business plan, a marketing plan or anything that would give us direction. It was seat of the pants with Montreal running things.

"John Paton was GM of Canoe and then he left and Jose Leal took over. The confusion continued and bodies started going over the side of the canoe.

"I was on vacation in August when I got a call asking me to come in to a 'meeting.' Right then I knew I was gone. My staff too.

"I knew I couldn't go back to the Sun because there were too many cuts already underway, so took my package and jumped.

"That was Aug 22, 2001. It didn't hit me until Sept 11 when I saw the live footage on CNN and realized I wasn't in the news media biz anymore.

"That was the turning point. I started half-heartedly looking for a job and freelancing while still enjoying the late summer weather. Dave Blizzard called me a few weeks later to say there was a job going at Air Miles.

"I applied, got it and it lasted 30 months. (After Air Miles) I went back to school at the Canadian Film Centre New Media program. In September 2004, I started freelancing and fell into a part time gig teaching at Centennial College.

"In 2005, I panicked, With no teaching gig to back up my freelancing, I needed income and took the news editor's job at the Daily Commercial News, but by then I knew freelancing was what I wanted to do.

"My freelance work suddenly picked up and I quit the DCN after eight days. It really wasn't me. I can't ride a desk. They (DCN) have turned out to be one of my best and more dependable clients. I go there a couple of times a month to do layout and I write a lot of stories for them too. Still great people to work with.

"Funny how it all turns out.

"Until last January, I was doing well. Since then, not so well. I was down 60% some months from my highs of the year before. Magazines folded, clients cut freelance budgets, the competition increased. On average, I'd say I was down 50% on the year.

"But I'm surviving. Looking to do more corporate work and getting some here and there. It's slow, but going in the right direction. I've learned not to panic and use the slow days to look for new clients, pitch new work or just take a day off and enjoy the sunshine.

"I miss the people at the Sun, but in many ways I still see them. Al Cairns, Ganley-Man, Captain Mike and Dave . . . we all run into each other at events, here on the blog or on Facebook.

"What was will never be again, but then that's life. I was privileged to have enjoyed the best years of the Sun (I joined Jan. 1, 1979) and worked for, and with, the best people.

"I never felt we needed a union because if you had a problem you talked to someone and they listened. They may not always have changed things, but you felt someone listened.

"And there was one time I typed a letter to Doug Creighton complaining about the miserly raise the newsroom got and how the gap at the Star was getting bigger.

"Doug responded and we got more money.

"Try that with PKP.

"If there now, I would be a loyal and proud union member. In fact I am. I am a member of CEP local 2040, the Canadian Freelance Union, part of the same family as CEP local 87M SONG.

"I shudder to think how things might be without union representation today.

"Hey, golden days right? We all have to move on.

"Now I know how all those Tely guys felt and what they were always on about. I didn't get it at the time. But I get it now.

"There is life after the Sun. We all shine in our own way and we all carry the spirit that molded us, made us and formed us into what we are and who we are today.

"No one can take that away from us. No one. PKP and his bean counters can do what they want, but they will never, ever recreate a place where people would come in on their day off just to help out when the shit hit the fan.

"You cannot buy that kind of loyalty. You have to earn it.

"Good luck everyone. Stay in touch."

Thank you for your update, Ian.

1 comment:

  1. "You cannot buy that kind of loyalty. You have to earn it."

    What a powerful statement. And it is so true.

    Where's the incentive to go the extra step with this company these days? They don't care and will never reward you for doing so, such as overtime, etc. when managers are told to penny pinch everywhere.

    All the best to you Ian. Seems like getting out of this company is a blessing in disguise.