On a hot Friday morning before Mónica Ortiz Uribe started work for the day, her El Paso Times boss and a Gannett human resources representative asked her to join a Zoom call.
Ortiz Uribe knew immediately she would be laid off.
In August 2022, Gannett — which owns El Paso Times — announced they were laying off 400 of its employees, a group that included Ortiz Uribe. The announcement came after a second quarter crushing loss in revenue.
According to Ortiz Uribe, her boss and the human resources representative told her that Friday would be her last day of work.
“I remember I was in the middle of a reporting project looking into why top doctors were leaving our county hospital in a medically underserved region,” said Ortiz Uribe. “I never got the chance to publish that report.”
She remembers feeling a pit in her stomach when she received the news. The layoff meant she would no longer be able to serve her community as a senior reporter in her hometown of El Paso.
While many seasoned journalists like Ortiz Uribe have experienced a slow decline in the industry, at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference, the recent layoffs signal to young journalists looking to break into the field increased uncertainty. Young reporters should always be prepared for possible layoffs in the future, but recruiters and news leaders at the conference say there’s hope and offered advice.
Angel Covarrubias, the news director at CW39 Houston attending the NAHJ conference in Miami, said layoffs are nothing new.
He advised for those attending the Miami conference to take advantage of networking events — no matter their experience level. Going to those events can help create a list of contacts who can help find a job in the case of a layoff.
Covarrubias advised for young journalists to also diversify their skill set. Reporters who know how to do multiple skills such as photography, reporting, producing and on talent work can help them stand out when applying for a job, as well as keeping one in the case of a layoff.
Nathan Small, an ABC News talent recruiter, said when he got laid off in 2009 he struggled to find work. Small said he advises journalists to always be prepared and not to blame themselves for layoffs.
Valeria Fernández, the Managing Editor for Palabra, said she feels a lot of people are losing hope for journalism.
“They (layoffs) hit all levels, emotional and financial,” she said. “You lose people who are good at what they do.”
Palabra is a multimedia platform created by NAHJ for members to utilize it as an outlet of transition and to continue producing fresh content. The publication is a resource for journalists of all level who are looking to get their work published.
When she sees journalists which she said are good at their jobs post on their social media platforms of a layoff or seeking new opportunities, she takes it upon herself to reach out to them and invite them to submit their work to Palabra. Fernández said she accepts pitches from journalists who are looking to freelance and cover underreported topics and issues in various multimedia formats.
“At Palabra, we try to create an environment of support and comradery,” Fernández said.
After getting laid off, Ortiz Uribe felt confident in her professional abilities, and turned to freelancing.
“No me fue tan mal, estaba preparada con mis ahorros,” she said.
She was able to pivot to freelancing thanks to her extensive network. For those that do not want to go out on their own, she advises them to research the company they are applying to and ask how they handle layoffs.
In addition, Ortiz Uribe recommends talking about layoffs when negotiating salaries and benefits and to plan out whether the salary would be enough in case of a layoff or emergency.
Laura De la Garza Garcia is a junior at California State University-Sacramento. She currently serves as a news producer for Univision 19 and hopes to become a bilingual anchor/reporter. Reach her at lauraaledelagarza [at] gmail [dot] com and on Twitter @lauraaale__.