Bittersweet

Howdy, folks. The Tennessee Press Association awards were announced last week, and I won a few awards.

While I’m really happy that I won, it bums me out because it’s probably the last newspaper contest I’ll enter. I’m going to lose my job, and chances are I won’t find one at another newspaper. And due to the pandemic and lack of time to do anything really fancy with design this year, I doubt I’ll have anything worth entering for the next contest in either Tennessee or Virginia.

Here is the story on the TPA contest. And here is another link. And here is a link to the Virginia Press Association awards earlier this year. And another and another.

So, in my career, I have now won more than 20 awards in three states, which is pretty cool. I think the award that I am most proud of is the first one I won at The Island Packet in Bluffton, S.C. I won first place for Page Design Portfolio. When I first started working at that paper, it had a fabulous reputation for being an excellent and beautifully designed paper. I remember worrying that maybe I wasn’t qualified enough — even though I passed the six-hour copy editing test. But getting that award, I just knew that I had made the right choice in taking the job (I won that award again the next year). I also won first place in headline writing that year. Here is that story.

Yes, this blog post is a giant pat on the back to myself. But sometimes, that’s OK. I really need to be proud of myself, and I really need to remember that I am good at what I do. I need to remember that I am qualified for a lot of things, and I need to expand my job search to reflect that.

But let’s get back to last week’s awards. The ceremony was virtual, so for the first time ever, I could watch — state press association awards shows are always too far away, too expensive to attend and on the weekends, when I work. So I’ve never been able to see one. So, I watched it with my mom, and then shattered her eardrums when I screamed about some first places.

And I put the story in the paper last night, with 21 mugs of all the winners. Of those, 20 folks have worked at the paper. And of those 20, eight no longer work at the paper. Soon, the number will be 13. Isn’t that just utterly depressing? I was putting the mugs in the paper, and I just couldn’t help but feel that.

When I started working at my last job, they were working on getting a full copy desk (which they did do), and I was doing the job of one person. I could take the time to make the paper look elegant, and I could take time on editing stories. When I left that paper, I was doing the jobs of four people. There was no time for anything extra and barely enough time to do the regular job. I spent six years at a different job, and all I got was one measly raise the first year and none after that (no one got one), extra work for no extra pay and furloughed. And at my current job, I am doing extra work for no extra pay. In fact the “reward” for this and for all the awards I’ve won while here is to get laid off at the end of the year (or sooner, who knows).

Support your local paper as best you can. Please remember that if there are errors, it’s because there aren’t enough people working. If something doesn’t get covered, it’s because there are not enough reporters. If there aren’t a lot of local photos, it’s because there aren’t enough photographers. People who work to actually create a paper are working their hardest, but remember that the folks at the top are all about the bottom line. Most employees are working the jobs of more than one person.

Sorry to bum everyone out. Hopefully, I’ll be more upbeat tomorrow! Until next time!

The Frazzled Daisy

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