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Laid-off Washington Times sportswriter: Hope have more tomorrows than yesterdays in my career

Newspaper layoffs. We’ve become numb to it by now. They seem to happen almost daily.

Still, I was struck by an item at Romenesko.com last week. He ran a tweet from Patrick Stevens, a sportswriter who just found out he was being laid off by the Washington Times. The tweet said: “Can go ahead and cross ‘live tweeting while being fired’ off the bucket list.”

I found the tweet amusing, and it gave me the idea to contact Stevens. I told him I wanted to provide a snapshot of what it’s like for somebody to be going through this experience.

Stevens agreed. At the top, he said he is upbeat even though his future is uncertain.

Tellingly, he said, “I’m hoping I have more tomorrows than yesterdays in my career.”

His situation: Stevens was in his second stint with the Times. He worked there from 2002-2009. Then he was rehired in Feb., 2011. Stevens covered the DC college sports scene for the paper. “It’s a terrific beat,” he said. “Something always is happening.”

Stevens, though, got a bad feeling when the paper announced in November that it was going to have more layoffs.

“Let’s just put it this way,” Stevens said. “When they announced that, I felt it was time to update the resume.”

Sure enough, Stevens wasn’t surprised when he received the news Friday. Earlier that morning, he found out the hard drive in his computer was dead.

“At least I didn’t round things off by getting in a car accident,” Stevens said.

What now?: Stevens is 32 and isn’t married. He said he might feel differently if he had a family to support.

“I’m in a much better spot because of my situation,” he said.

The first thing Stevens did was restart his website, D1scourse.com, which focuses on DC-Baltimore college sports.

“I launched it when I was in between jobs the first time,” Stevens said. “The worst thing that can happen is that you disappear. This will keep me busy.”

Stevens said he isn’t going to flood the market with resumes. With all his connections, Stevens hopes something will materialize in the DC area.

“Things have a way of presenting themselves,” Stevens said.

The future: The last time Stevens was out of work, he started thinking of what else he could do. He couldn’t think of anything else.

“It was a bit unnerving,” he said.

Stevens is a sportswriter. That’s what he wants to do. Yet the rug already has been pulled out from him twice. Given the volatility of the industry, how can he be sure about any kind of security if he does get another job?

“Regarding the state of the industry, it’s fair to say that the odds of me making it to the finish line, of doing this another 30 years, aren’t very good,” Stevens said. “Do I think the outlook is bleak? Yeah. You have to be blind not to think that. That’s knowledge that I will have to act upon at some point. I don’t know when.”

Now isn’t the time, Stevens said. Not at age 32. He stressed repeatedly that he is feeling confident about his prospects.

“I don’t think it will be impossible to find another job,” Stevens said. “I’m not going, ‘Woe is me.’ I figured it out before and I will do it again.”

If anything, Stevens said the support he received in the wake of his firing has given him a huge lift. There were numerous tweets, texts, emails and calls.

“It really meant a lot to me,” Stevens said. “The outpouring (of support) far outweighed how much that morning sucked. It made me more optimistic about where things are headed now.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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