Newspapers: Down-sized... kicked out... dismissed... sacked. Can there be life after the boot?

Job losses at the 'Telegraph'; more at the 'FT'. But what follows redundancy? We asked victims of earlier culls


Kathryn Flett

Kathryn Flett

Worked on 'The Face'. Sacked in 1989. Now 40 and TV critic for 'The Observer'

I got made redundant in a dark and strange set of circumstances and then I got my ... revenge is the wrong word. Let's just say three years later I was back employed by Wagadon [then publisher of The Face] on another magazine. I didn't belong to a union and there were no financial packages. I remember being incredibly miserable but then seeing the point a bit later. There's some Pollyanna-ish spin to redundancy that you're sometimes forced to do things you would otherwise resist. Journalists are a fairly insecure bunch of people. But it's musical chairs; there's always another job for you somewhere else.

Mark Palmer

Was executive editor of the 'Daily Express' when fired in 1998. Now 50 and freelancing - as a writer and consultant, and as a commissioning editor at the 'Daily Mail'

I'd joined with the new editor, Richard Addis, in 1996. But Lord Hollick came in, turned the Daily and Sunday Express into a seven-day operation, cut 90 jobs, and tore the heart and soul out of a great paper. Then he decided that he wanted a more left-liberal title, brought in Rosie Boycott as editor, and that was it for me and Richard. I actually felt a huge sense of liberation. It had been a torrid two years.

I was fortunate that I had a book to write - about the 1998 World Cup. But after liberation came panic. Then again, the great thing about journalism is that you just pick up your box of tools, move on and start elsewhere. Precariousness is part of what journalism's about - it reminds you that you are alive.

Harry Arnold

Royal reporter on the "Mirror', left in 2003. Now 63 and retired

I was very happy to go. I was given a very generous redundancy package which enabled me to build a villa on the island of Cephalonia and I grabbed the chance to go with both hands. Now I'm building another one. If you soldier on until 65 you start to look a bit aged in the newsroom and you retire with just your pension. A lot of Fleet Street writers and photographers make the mistake of going on for too long. Old age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill, but it's important to have something else in your life. I can go back to Fleet Street whenever I like but it's to see my chums, not to share the delights of driving through the Blackwall Tunnel.

Dominic Timms

Was editor of TV industry website produxion.com (now broadcastnow.co.uk). Left in 2000. Now 40 and freelance

We knew there was going to be a restructure so it wasn't a surprise to be offered redundancy. I think they envisaged that I would stay but when I thought about it, it was a no-brainer. I had continuous service for three or four years so I took redundancy and never regretted it. I remember sitting in the garden and it felt like I'd retired. I had a new house to do up and a young child. They paid me very quickly. It was the biggest lump sum I've ever had in my life and I thought it would last a year. Six months later it had all gone. But it helped starting out as a freelance because it meant I wasn't panicking. Redundancy is inevitable across media organisations and it shouldn't be that much of a body blow depending on how old you are, how good your contacts are and how relevant your experience is. Having a specialism helps.

Eddie Butler

Was rugby correspondent of the 'Sunday Correspondent' when it folded in 1990. Now 47 and rugby correspondent of 'The Observer'

The Correspondent had been a hell of an adventure. I think we all took the line that we were on the Titanic, so we might as well enjoy ourselves while it was afloat. It was very sad when it closed, but the moment was tinged with fatalism and realism. It must have been worrying, but I think I tend to look back on that time through rose-tinted spectacles. I wrote about rugby for The Independent on Sunday and I had some BBC work, but I do remember there were weeks in the summer when I didn't do much. I've lost plenty of jobs. It happened at The Observer in the mid-1990s. You learn from the experience, and I think you have to be conscious that it's a volatile business, and learn to take the bad times with the good.

And someone who saw which way the wind was blowing...

Mary Kenny

Was a columnist on the 'Daily Express'. Left in 2000. Now 60 and freelance

I think in retrospect that my walking away from the Daily Express was a bit of a silly gesture. They always used to say in Fleet Street that one should never walk away: one should always wait to be fired. The redundancy is better. I do think you should take the attitude, though, that being fired is not the end of the world. Often it stimulates you to do other things. I'm much poorer than I used to be, but I'm much more interested in a wider spectrum of things, much more involved with books and with history and I've rediscovered earlier passions - like the theatre, French language and culture - which I had put aside when daily journalism was the big priority.

Interviews by Lucy Rouse and Simon O'Hagan

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