Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Text size: increase text sizedecrease text size 'OK, Now what?' After layoff comes a struggle to fill the time void with structure, purpose,0,6537860.story

With all the hub about the economy these days and struggling families getting closer and closer to the poverty line with job loss, it was no surprise to find an article like this in the Chicago Tribune. This article took a little different approach to job loss than others I have seen, but many of its components remained typical.

The piece begins with a one sentence, short, feature type lead identifying a recently laid off woman being asked by her husband to handle his dry cleaning. Yet, it does not give the reader much information and delays the main point of this piece. The second paragraph describes how this simple request from her husband after her job loss caused the woman to question, "Oh no, is this what I have become?" From this point I could tell it was not a typical piece on the recession. Instead, this piece is focusing on what individuals do with their time once they are laid off. A legitimate question, but, in my opinion, not a significant concern in comparison to getting the bills paid and the children fed.

The third paragraph acts as the nut graph stating basic information about the recession such as unemployment statistics and record losses. I was relieved with the inclusion of the next paragraph which addresses my earlier critique. The writer recognizes that for most of the unemployed the question is "How will I support myself and my family?", yet she chooses to address the small minority who simply can't figure out how to spend their newly acquired free time.

The first source, other than the Dina Schipper mentioned in the lead, is Nancy Collamer a career counselor. She shares how job loss can be similar to identity theft. After this quotation, the writer jumps into another profile of a recently unemployed individual, Joe Urbanski. This individual is desperately struggling as he looks for a new job and apartment. The next source is Andrew Lisy, a 24 year old who was recentlly laid off from wall street. Unlike, Urbanski, Lisy seems to have enough saved up to survive for awhile on his own.

At this point, the story jumps back to Schipper, the women mentioned in the lead, and talks about how she is spending her free time. Next, unemployed Peter Sterling is introduced whom shares that he found fulfillment in his family. Another source, Eric Shutt, found his shelter in volunteer work after his job loss. The final source used is Lou Kramberg, age 60, who is no longer looking for full time work, but instead donating his time to volunteer efforts.

The variety of sources in the piece was pretty good. The writer incorporated individuals of many ages, classes, economic standing, gender, and occupation. I didn't particularly like how the sources and their stories were pieced together though. It was a little choppy and failed to hold my attention at times. I think a neat feature story could have been made concentrating on one of these individuals, although I know that may not have been an option.

The depth of this coverage wasn't so deep. The small nutgraph told the very basics about the recession which I think was okay. The average American has already heard statistics like these a thousand times anyway. The variety of sources conrtributed to the fairness and accuracy of the story.

Although the story was pretty thorough I still am not a huge fan of the topic. I just can't imagine an individual who is jobless, sitting at home stressing over bills, picking up the newspaper and enjoying reading a story how other unemployed individuals are struggling finding a way to waste their time.

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