A good while before being laid off at the paper (Whoop whoop, I guess I’m officially a journalist!) I was burned out. Those last few months, the majority of assignments I went in thinking, “Okay, lets just get this done,” rather than trying to do my best – something that only added to the cycle of completely being over it.
I was sick of hearing “Get as many photos as you can, we want a deep gallery,” so the number of clicks on our site would go up, or, “Try to photograph as many people as you can,” so more people would share our posts on social media. I was sick of the paper running photos by reporters that weren’t even in focus or exposed correctly, let alone having any sort of composition, moment or intention. I was sick of us bypassing important issues in the community.
I finally reached a point this winter when I was done, and told my boss I was leaving in a few months. Turns out Warren Buffett beat me to the punch. I was part of a nation-wide round of layoffs to staff members in various papers owned by Buffett (yaaaay for killing local journalism).
Thankfully I had already been applying for jobs, and had a few interviews lined up with universities. One of those was being a photographer, videographer and writer for the Office of Research Communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was offered the position about two weeks after leaving the paper.
This job has been a complete 180-flip from my last position. Where “The more, the better,” ruled at the paper, “Quality beats quantity,” is the motto here. We plan out stories months in advance, hold weekly meetings going over every aspect of that week’s content, we’re afforded the time to make pieces the best we can possibly make them and I work with a team of people that genuinely love their jobs.
Although there are definitely some things I will forever miss about working at a paper I think this was a good decision.
This weekend I photographed for fun for the first time in two and a half months. For a long while I thought the only path was being a newspaper photojournalist and anything else is subpar. I’m glad I allowed myself to be proven wrong.