Let’s start off with the good. My twitter has been blowing up since this morning because C5 ran my story about making beer today. I got attention from some of my writers, people I don’t know, and beer industry professionals (looking at you, Tim Besecker, co-founder of Twin Elephant Brewing Co.). It’s always a joy in this job to get recognition from strangers, and positive recognition at that. I’m aware that in basically any other industry attention from strangers is weird and creepy. Writing in general can get into weird territory pretty quick. But all in all, today was successful for me as a writer.
Now on to the bad. Two things. The first one is more of an inconvenience and a bone to pick with WordPress. Basically everyone I know in the industry here keeps telling me to set up Google Analytics on my blog. So I had some “free time” today, and decided to tackle it. I set up my Google Analytics account, head over to my site admin, and quickly find I can’t add Google Analytics because I don’t have either WordPress.org site, or the WordPress.com Business Plan. This is beyond frustrating.
To accurately measure how well my blog is doing and the kind of traffic I’m getting, I need to have access to the most widely used analytics tool there is; the one by which most use as the standard. If I’m limited to just WordPress stats (which are insightful, and it’s usefulness is totally not the point), how am I able to compare with other sites that use Google Analytics (most, if not all sites)? This has less to do about functionality and more to do with comparability. Seeing how you stack up against other sites of the same size is necessary.
My last bit of “bad” from today comes from the industry I’m in. Not journalism and writing as a whole, but working for a newspaper company (while I’m a magazine editor, it is under the umbrella of a newspaper company). Having been in this field for a few years, and trying to find a job in it, at that, I’m well aware of the struggles of this industry. That said, I know the feeling of anxiety when everyone knows something is going on, but no one is willing to share the exact details. We’re left wondering, speculating the worst, and sometimes the worst is what we get.
This week carries that same feeling of anxiety for me. I felt it every time the publisher visited at my last job. And my gut was right—we went through furloughs, talks of seriously downsizing our costs (translation: cutting magazines from the lineup), and pay freezes. In this job I’ve felt it. We were in a salary freeze when I was first hired. There has been one round of layoffs since I’ve been here roughly a year. And those are only the confirmed layoffs. What newspapers tend to do is offer “retirement” or a buyout package in lieu of being fired. This way employees save face, employers avoid paying unemployment, and the negative press of layoffs just doesn’t happen.
Several people I work directly with have left recently. One more left today after 32 years. Today’s cut wasn’t described as a layoff, but it is my understanding that it wasn’t this employee’s choice to leave. While I’m gladly not worried about my job since our division is as bare bones as possible, this is sadly the current state of journalism. A constant feeling of anxiety. Zero transparency from upper management. Changes so quick you never get to adjust before the next one turns the whole institution on its head. And the call to lower costs, while still being innovative, never ever goes away.
All we can do is ride it out, keep writing, and never stop looking for the next job opportunity. If you’re wondering why company loyalty isn’t a thing anymore, here’s your answer. We can’t afford it.