Job insecurity as the new job security



Today I went to work … for the simple reason I had a job to go to.

I will do the same on Monday and Tuesday.

And, hopefully, presumably, next Friday, too.

Given the ongoing ructions in the media in general and the newspaper lark in particular, this is not a situation I take for granted – even in a good week.

And this has not been a good week. (But perhaps it hasn’t been ruinously bad one either … read on, dear reader, read on …)

Once again, my colleagues and I have been tossed around by the winds of change.

In this case, it was announced on Thursday that the western suburbs affairs of the MMP group, for which I work, are to be merged with the western suburbs affairs of the Star group, which lives on the other side of the Ring Road from our Airport West HQ.

Details remain a little sketchy, but it seems the new set-up will be a completely separate entity from both parent companies.

Two things have surprised me about this:

1. It’s the first time I can recall in regards to similar announcements that sub-editors and production staff, of which I am one, have not been earmarked as pretty much the first to be given the boot.

2. My own reaction – which has bemused me with its sanguine outlook.

OK, in this case my own immediate work situation remains unaltered … for now.

But I wasn’t to know that when my boss called me on one of my days off to give me the news.

This rather ho-hum response couldn’t be more at odds with my feelings when faced with such potentially dire news on two previous occasions in recent years.

During both, I was teary and felt a wild, thoroughly unpleasant mixture of bleakness, anger and terror.

I know not if this equanimity is attributable to simply being too exhausted by anxiety and stress to summon up any sort of primal emotional response.

Or if it is simply down to a mature acceptance of facing the unknown and what I cannot change with whatever optimism I can summon.

Possibly, it is a combination of both.

For you, the citizens of the west, this will mean that in about three months you will get not three but two suburban papers stuffed into your mailboxes – providing they get delivered to your particular neighbourhood at all!

For myself and my colleagues, there is potential upsides to all this even as, as I have been led to believe, job losses in the MMP group alone number about 30.

Having three companies publishing community newspapers across the west has proven to be unsustainable.

So now it will be something of an old-fashioned head-to-head newspaper war between the Leader group of News Ltd and what I have been told will be called the Weekly Star publications.

It’s perhaps too easy and glib for journalists to proclaim suburban newspapers as the great hope for the future.

But I reckon they do provide some cause for optimism.

After a career mostly undertaken in metropolitan newspapers, I am thoroughly enjoying working on and with stories that have real meaning in local contexts.

Politics and sport are just two of the areas in which we seem to be providing a much-wanted service largely abandoned by the big guys.

I was told today that the circulation of the Herald Sun has slipped below 400,000 and that of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph below 300,000.

I am unsure of the accuracy of those figures, but still …

In the meantime, should Consider The Sauce continue to grow and develop in the next four years in the same manner it has for the past four, maybe by the time the whole newspaper mess goes down, I will be in a position to survive doing something I really, truly love.

PS: I wanted to use the word sanguineness … but I don’t think it IS a word!

6 thoughts on “Job insecurity as the new job security

  1. Great post. Yes, jobs in terms of security have really changed, with the majority of people in most industries not knowing whether they will have a job from one year or month to the next. In my industry, tertiary education, we heard at a union meeting this week that 81% of the academic staff at my uni are in casual or short-term contract employment. That leaves only a lucky 19% in what used to be called “tenured” positions. Paid sick leave, paid holidays and many other entitlements are a thing of the past. There is only one benefit, I think, to being casual: that is, the company doesn’t own you and you are free when you’re not rostered on, to pursue your own (unpaid, usually) interests. Blogging is one of them! All power to you and Consider the Sauce, Kenny, and I truly hope that in the near future, it can become your full-time sustenance as well as your passion.


    • Thanks, Caron! Yes, much has changed. Sick leave, holidays are a thing of the past for me. But as you say, there are silver linings. Much as I enjoy my current regular-gig role and the people with whom I work, it simply doesn’t “own” me as the SHS did!


  2. We had a discussion in the way-back-when about how I got downsized out of my journo career, IIRC. It was a heart-breaker, because that’s what I chose to do in life. It fit with my personality. I looked, unsuccessfully, for other reporting jobs for almost a year before bailing on the business and going to nursing school. Lucky for me that in the U.S., nurses are less-educated than they are here, so I could qualify as the American equivalent to a Division 2 after just one year in a vo-tech (read “TAFE”) school. And I haven’t lacked for work in the two decades since.

    I’m like one of the people Caron describes, on casual status. I’m signed up with a couple nursing temp services. When/if they call, if I feel like working that day, I go to work. The freedom for work-life balance is great. But I can only do that because I’ve chose an in-demand field of employment, and because I’ve made enough of a pile to be financially secure. If I was young and starting a family, I’d be hard-put to live this way. That’s who suffers the most from the current business zeitgeist — the people with the most life ahead of them, the ones who are expected to be the bedrock of society in the future.

    It’s sad, though, that 1.) news publications are withering, because that leaves the world with a less-informed populace (just what the financial overlords want!) and 2.) so many people are living on the edge of uncertainty. The latter factor will eventually eat society, like the ancient symbol of Ordos, the snake that swallows its own tail. Sacking people, running a lean and mean business machine, is great for an individual business’s bottom line. But, in another wrinkle to the tragedy of the commons, what happens when every business does it? It kills the customer base. Are YOU going to go out and buy a new car, plan an overseas holiday, take out a mortgage, when you don’t know for sure if you’ll have any cash flow next year? What sort of citizenry does a nation have when there’s no sense of loyalty; when people know that they are disposable objects, not even as valuable as slaves (who were at least “property” so the Master Class had a financial interest in their upkeep)? You get a restless, discontented mob, which is one of the underlying dynamics with the foul social mood in the U.S. People sense that the organisers of society don’t care about them, so they don’t care about their society. It’s the breeding ground for revolution and chaos. Pity that Australia’s rulers should be able to see how that’s playing out in the U.S., but they’re going down the same foolish path.


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