This journalist has spent his entire career working in newspapers. After several layoffs, he plans to let them go.

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This story is part of a series. You can read more stories from Some Personal News here.

At the end of the day on January 6, as the country was consumed by the news of an angry mob storming the United States Capitol to protest a fair election, Matt Memrick sat thinking of a conference call he had had earlier in the day when he learned his position at McClatchy was being eliminated.

“Part of me knew something was up. I didn’t know if my hours were going to be cut, ”Memrick said. “I felt like it wasn’t good, but I had no idea they were going to be so quick to eliminate my position.

Memrick had worked at the McClatchy Publishing Center for over five years as a digital content specialist. There he designed newspaper pages and edited stories for the company’s 30 dailies. He was often given the role of “sweeper”, sending pages for publication after they had been approved by the page checker.

Sweepers had the lowest status in the newsroom, Memrick said. On January 6, he and a few others who had primarily held these positions lost their jobs. Her last day would be in two weeks – Inauguration Day

The dismissal was not a complete surprise. McClatchy filed for bankruptcy in February 2020 and was later bought out by hedge fund Chatham Asset Management in July 2020. Memrick knew the conference call would bring bad news, but he had hoped he didn’t lose his job. Maybe, he thought, the director of the appeal would tell everyone that times had been tough during the pandemic and that they needed to find new ways to generate income.

“When a new hedge fund takes over your business, you kind of feel like, ‘Well, bad things could be happening,’ Memrick said. “’Certainly, they cannot continue to cut jobs. But, you know, they did.

It wasn’t the first time he had been fired from McClatchy. Six years ago, he joined The Charlotte Observer after spending more than a decade working at the Gaston Gazette. A colleague had encouraged him to apply for the Observer position, which would earn him more money.

Memrick jumped at the chance. But after only a few months he was fired. At the time, her daughter was only 1 year old.

“The funny thing I mean is I have two daughters, one is seven and the other is two. And every time I had a one-year-old, I seemed to be fired, ”Memerick said. “I thought it was a sign that basically I can’t have a third daughter or a third child and be in the papers.”

The first time he was fired, Memrick spent a lot of time at home, unsure of what to do next. This time he feels more optimistic.

Before being fired in January, Memrick was a substitute teacher and freelance writer. He started a Sub-stack information bulletin with other alumni from his alma mater, Belmont Abbey College, to cover stories that went unreported. At McClatchy, Memrick hadn’t been able to write much, so freelance work was an opportunity to practice his skills.

“I feel like I have a little more brand recognition, maybe a little more skills learned,” Memrick said. “Maybe it’s time to get out of newspapers – maybe not journalism primarily – but maybe there is a better life than… working a second shift.”

In his search for a new job, Memrick considered a variety of positions: digital content specialist, van transporter, executive assistant, social media consultant and grants writer. He worked as a substitute teacher during the school year, but hopes to find full-time work this summer. If he is still unemployed in the fall, he is considering returning to substitute education and may explore full-time education.

Even though his next job isn’t in journalism, Memrick still hopes to “do journalistic good in the world.” As a child, he often sat in his driveway and read the newspapers after school. He took journalism courses in high school and university. After graduating, he got the job of his dreams: a job at a local newspaper.

“I was lucky enough to be able to jump right into journalism right out of college and then have a long run with them (newspapers),” Memrick said. “The first time I got fired at McClatchy, there was a big party – not necessarily a party, but there was a bunch of people retiring or being fired. And I said I’m not ready yet. I’m not ready to leave the papers, and I was a little hurt by it.

“This time, I feel like maybe it’s time.”

This story is part of a series, Some Personal News, which shares the experiences of people who were fired from their journalism jobs or left the news during the pandemic. We know that thousands of people lost their jobs in the last year and want to capture the stories of journalists, print workers, ad salespeople, news seekers and anyone else whose jobs by. newsrooms has ended or has been changed due to the pandemic. You can tell us your story here.


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