Job losses in the media industry are painful, yes, but no need of grieving


The media is essential for our democracy. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

There are major life events nearly everyone lives through, but such different ways they play out: and sometimes to complete destruction.

As it is, my father died this Christmas. He was 85 and had Alzheimer's, meaning he couldn’t recognise anyone anymore. Mental deterioration is a terrible way to go, but no one is to blame. It’s just a moment of great sadness.

Yet, this last week, we also lost the daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie, who died of a coronary at just 54.

She had never recovered from the suicide, in 2020, of her adored 27-year-old son, who died by stepping off the balcony of her seventh-floor apartment.

The death of a child is anyway excruciatingly painful. But in that suicide leap lay a double curse, in the sense of responsibility, as well as his absence from her life.

And now I see how the blame part is the bit we have to watch so carefully in all these major life events.

For another big life-changer has been around me this season in the form of job losses, and one of the most common outcomes of a job loss is a sharp drop in self-esteem.

It’s as if our belief in ourselves is rooted in the value our employer places on us or the fact that we merit that work.

This can even happen in the world of gigs, where we might pour everything into proposals for a client who often wins that work, with promises of how it will generate work for we-on-the-gig, and then it never does, and never is allocated our way, it can feel as if we are never good enough.

Yet, the truth is, that for everyone suffering job losses this season, and there are so many in the media now, it’s vital to understand the wrong-place-wrong-time of this: an industry in transition, managers who could not achieve the product adaptation that was needed.

The double curse comes if we take this so hard and so personally we render ourselves unemployable, which can happen and does, say psychiatrists.

The gig manager is just buying cheaper, maybe short-termism, or maybe the buyer didn’t want the skills originally pitched.

The media house has been mismanaged to the extent it didn’t see how to line up with those now expanding.

If we make these changes into our own fault and load ourselves with anxiety and depression, it’s we who pay for everything, with our own future written off.

Bereavements we must grieve. But jobs? Ours is to find a better place that is thriving sufficiently, based on its own strengths, to have work.

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