Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Laid off from the Washington Times.
Well, the other shoe dropped today: Remember the story that ran a month ago today in which I was quoted in the Washington Post about snakes in our newsroom? If you want to see it, please go to the "birthday month" entry below.
I thought journalists were truth-seeking types. Also, I am always trying to coax people to go on the record. Isn't it a bit hypocritical of me to not do so as well?
Alas, my employers felt differently. I knew things were going south when my articles were either cut in half, tossed out of the print edition or placed at the back of the paper. An one exception was this piece which got snuck onto the front page when the editor was away. Then we just had a new design of our web site and I couldn't help notice that "faith" was missing from the home page whereas "entertainment" was prominent on the navigation bar, even though we have no entertainment reporters. Then I heard last week that my religion blog had been killed.
But I was out sick most of that week due to surgery on my foot. Then Veeka came down with a fever over the weekend so I spent the morning of Memorial Day in one of those emergency doc-in-a-box clinics getting her antibiotics. So when I went into work today, it was on crutches with a bandaged foot, with Veeka in tow and a bottle of kiddie Tylenol in my purse. We were going to stay 1-2 hours while I gathered up some notes and prepared to do the rest of my work from home. So I was starting work on a column and Veeka was watching one of her videos when Sam Dealey, the editor, walked up. Now he has refused to speak to me since the Post article, so I knew something was up and sure enough, he invited me to his office.
He said the Washington Times is going in a different direction and that religion coverage would not be part of it; hence my job was being done away with. Yeah, right: for an organization whose four foundational principles are family, faith, freedom and service.
I flatly told Sam this was payback. Plus there I was having to pack 11 heavy boxes in a few hours containing 14 years of work - no easy task. And with a bum foot. Within about two hours, my phone and email were cut off. When dozens of Times reporters were laid off last December, they got two days to go through their email but hey, things have gotten nastier, haven't they?
Seeing what was going on, a few very nice employees took Veeka downstairs for lunch or out for a walk, just to help me out. Am including a photo that a helpful intern - Hillary May - shot on my iPhone of me sitting at the back of my car trunk after packing some of the boxes. Veeka began to cry so it took several tries to get her to smile a little. Poor little girl: having to be with her mommy during such a nasty day.
Hearing of this mess, the Levys, my neighbors across the street, ordered in Chinese and had Veeka and I over for dinner.