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CSN Houston Layoffs

Getting laid off doesn't have to suck, if you don't

Getting laid off doesn’t have to suck, if you don’t

Let me preface this post by saying that it very well may come across snarky, and that isn’t my goal by any means.

It hit the news today that about 75 jobs at Comcast SportsNet Houston (CSN Houston) will be eliminated. I don’t know all the details because A) that isn’t my business and B) that isn’t what this post is about.

In January 2011 I was laid off from a pretty great job. And it too was totally unexpected. My heart goes out to each one of the CSN folks laid off today or who fears it coming in the near future. It’s not a fun feeling – especially if you have a family. For me, it came literally seven days into the New Year (you know all those New Year’s Resolutions? Those all quickly went to shit for me – I mean, how do you save money when you aren’t making money?), and just two months after buying both a car and a house. Not ideal timing.

But when is a layoff really ideal?

Earlier tonight I tweeted this: “Getting laid off is never fun. To those of you who were courteous, polite & respectful to me, I wish you the best.” In 140 characters, it’s hard to get a real point across, which is why I moved over to this medium. And no, not to be all high and mighty, but because I think it points a very valuable job and life lesson. (Keep in mind, this column rarely, if ever, gives life lessons…)

Working in sports is not easy. It’s not the dream job I literally hear every single day. For me, as a freelancer, I have to bust my ass on the regular – to get the simplest 500 word story and sell it (because it doesn’t do any good just sitting on my voice recorder, now does it?) is more than a day’s work. Finding accurate editor information to pitch the story to is probably another few hours. Then lets throw in there that to even get an interview with a reputable team/athlete, you can’t just show up and say, “Hey I’m a blogger, can I interview the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year for a publication TBD?” It doesn’t work that way.

Imagine how much easier doors open when you can say, “Hi, I’m Jayme Lamm and I’m an ESPN Anchor.” But since when have I ever taken the easy route?

The other thing about being a freelancer and being cast as a blogger (which I am not – I am a writer – I write, not blog – more on that later) – others that have concrete and more stable jobs in the industry with networks like CSN Houston (as an example) treat you like dirt. Like you are on a lesser level than they are. As if we both didn’t get our educations from prominent schools, didn’t intern for zero dollars and didn’t work our way up the journalistic ladder, probably in unison. I just went a different route, probably because of all the f-bombs I drop. Corporate America doesn’t really appreciate that kind of language, so I kind of had to pave my own little freelancers way in lieu of the traditional way.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in the same media rooms (yes, wearing the EXACT same credentials except I don’t have a network with lots of money and power to get me there or even reimburse me for gas or parking once I arrive) and literally get ignored. Like I don’t belong there. Just the other day – as in one week ago – I walked to a media event to a group of four people – all I have met numerous times (Houston media is a rather small circuit) – two of them didn’t even look me in the eyeballs. And this happened over a 15-minute time span. I know Ebola and West Nile are running rampant, but last I checked I was in the clear.

Many people – in the industry and not – often ask why I don’t do locker room interviews even though I’m credentialed or why I don’t speak up at the press conferences I attend. To be honest, it’s mostly because as brazen and free-spirited as I am (or at least appear to be), I get tired of people mocking what I do for a living. It’s a hard ass job, and I’ll tell you this – when I started FOUR YEARS ago, there really wasn’t anyone doing this. At least not as a full-time job.  And if there was, you damn sure better believe they weren’t helping me out with any insider tips.

So back to my tweet – there is a reason I worded it the way I did. After all, I am a writer, so my wording is often premeditated. There are some friendly, professional and respectful people that are being hit by this CSN Houston layoff – people who most definitely don’t deserve it. Those are the people I wish the best for, because they seem to get it. The industry as a whole – they get it. All along the way they have treated me as an equal, which is really all I’ve ever asked. Like my stories were just as well crafted and put together as theirs (because guess what? THEY WERE). And that’s the key to this industry and quite frankly all of them. Hell, that’s the key to life – not acting like you’re better than anyone else.

My success after being laid off so many years ago? Probably much to the fact I respected people I met along the way. I used social media wisely. I always spoke my mind in meetings and when out and about, but I listened, and respected others. I learned from my competition – I at least made nice with them. I definitely made eye contact, I definitely made small talk, I definitely responded to each and every email that was sent to me. I still (pretty much) do. And guess what? When I was laid off, people didn’t just feel bad for me, they wanted to help and see me land on my feet.

*This is in NO WAY saying I was perfect, but I wouldn’t be where I am right now had I handled things differently.

Perhaps this job was their first in sports for some of the people I’m ambiguously referencing in this post. I get it – when I got my first job in sports, I literally thought I was cooler than everyone. It didn’t last long (the cool feeling because I kept seeing my bi-weekly paychecks to remind me just how un-cool and broke I was), but I get it. People look to you for information and insight into some of the biggest and most awesome athletes around the country – you are kinda big-time. BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO ACT IT.

The sports industry, the industry of writers and journalists, and then break that down to just badass women who are good at what they do – you constantly see and hear them tearing each other down. That’s not what it’s about. Mean Girls was a movie – it shouldn’t be real life.

I’ll say it again as I got slightly derailed – layoffs suck. I don’t think anyone deserved being laid off or caught off-guard like this, but maybe for a week or two in between gigs, some of those folks will realize just for a minute that I’m just as much a professional as they are. Hell, they can probably even properly don the title as a freelancer during that time. I may even give them a few pointers. Maybe.