The newsroom is not a pretty place — and by newsroom, I mean the imaginary one we work in at TIME, which is actually a collection of flourescent-lit offices with about as much Hollywood panache as, well, a collection of flourescent-lit offices. We reporters are not a queasy people — and by reporters I mean the staff writers and editors and researchers who put out our magazine.
But the day after a mass layoff, we are all a little traumatized at the sight of all the blood on the newsroom floor.
The names are still emerging and have yet to hit the outside press (as of 2:46 p.m. on Dec. 5, anyway, I saw nothing on Gawker or Romenesko). There seems to be some question about whether all the people on the list even know they’ve been booted. My colleagues report a feeling of doom and dread among the laid off and the left behind.
That contrasts with the collective mood among those of us who’ve volunteered to go. We’re exchanging congratulatory e-mails and phone calls, many beginning with: “Whoo hoo!” I’m not saying we’re glad to leave an institution we love. It’s more complicated: we’re glad to be free of the tension and fear that accompany beheadings, and we’re excited at the prospect of new opportunities.
Speaking for myself, my elation is coupled with worry, of course; how can we not react to news of 533,000 jobs lost in November, or when economists call the job market “almost indescribably terrible“? But there’s plenty of time for the reality of unemployment to sink in. Let me enjoy the sweet taste of freedom. It tastes like wine. Is there wine?