Remember the great media layoffs of 2020? Despite how jarring those pandemic-related cuts felt, it turns out, they were only the beginning. Just six months into 2023, this year already has the worst year-to-date journalism layoffs on record, with a sweeping 17,436 media jobs already cut across the industry.
If you’re one of the many writers now navigating unemployment, here are a few steps to consider taking.
First thing first: don’t let any lingering shame or embarrassment hold you back from reaching out to your network. Your recent layoff has nothing to do with your writing ability, and the odds are high your peers want to see you succeed.
From your past professors at J school to your first-ever editor to other writers in your beat, it’s time to send off those update emails, texts, and LinkedIn messages. Let them know what happened, what type of writing you’ve been up to, and where you hope to grow next.
Writing may be painful as you process this hurdle, but as soon as you’re able, it’s essential to keep up your craft. You don’t want to lose your momentum, but more importantly, you never know what story will secure your next opportunity.
The more you write, the higher your chances are of getting published between now and your next full-time role.
These days, a journalist is nothing without their social media presence. Okay, they’re definitely not nothing with it, but it can certainly help a writer in need.
On one hand, you can use Facebook and LinkedIn for networking. You should already know how to use the latter, but if you’re unsure how to leverage the former, start by seeking out Facebook groups for fellow writers. They can be an excellent source for writing tips, freelance opportunities, and some good old-fashioned community support.
On the other hand, you can use whatever social media following you have to continue promoting your work. Don’t be afraid to re-share past pieces you’re proud of, and always be sure to post new stories you’re working on solo.
Depending on how long you’ve been in the field, being told to get on TikTok and YouTube might make your eyes roll. As a writer, exploring video creation might feel outside of your wheelhouse, but in many ways, the skillset is the same: structuring a story, creating a narrative, and hooking a viewer's attention.
With one-third of TikTok users turning to the app for news and 22% of all Americans using YouTube for current events, mastering these platforms in your newfound free time might unlock incredible new opportunities.
If this step feels particularly challenging, just remember that in order to get good at something, you have to push through the part where you’re bad at it!
Beyond a Facebook group or writing class, there’s another community that can prop up your journalism career: 5WH. We know that networking, pitching, and publishing have all become increasingly difficult in the digital era, which is why we’re utilizing technology to power a brand-new marketplace.
Our members don’t just get the support of the global journalism community – they also get to post their pitches with ease, discover new media houses for a fraction of the research, and get their work published faster than ever. Learn more about our growing platform at 5WH.