I was recently surprised to receive a Facebook friend request from Tina Brown.
I accepted it and quickly discovered that my new virtual pal — Tina A. Brown — wasn’t the Newsweek/Daily Beast editor; she’s a struggling journalist from Savannah, Georgia.
I asked her if there’s been confusion over the years because of her name. She wrote:
I’ve used the same byline for 30 years. I can’t remember how many times I’ve scheduled an interview, shown up and the person asked with a dubious tone “you’re Tina Brown?” I used to think it was because they were surprised by my race. Some of my telephone sources from all over the country have said I don’t sound black. They ask to see my press pass when we meet.
I started appearing on television and fewer people asked until the other Tina Brown became a mogul. Now, I like to say with a smile: “I’m the other Tina Brown.” Wink. Wink. I’m quite sure I’ve lost a few great job opportunities with major media because we share the same name. I’ve considered using my initials recently if it will help me get back to work.
“I see that your LinkedIn bio still has you at the Savannah Morning News,” I told her in an email. “Were you laid off?”
The Morning News had plenty of opportunities but wouldn’t hire me as anything other then a modern day sharecropper. I freelanced for the newspaper and its “print only” publications until this spring. I suspended that contract because four of the five editors who had promised I wouldn’t be “working at McDonald’s” don’t work there anymore. The remaining editor was not giving me enough work. The contract said I couldn’t work for its competition.
Most of my journalism work has dried up. Slow pay is just as bad as no pay. My savings and 401K lasted just under four years. I used to write about the working poor. Now, I know what it feels like to get recertified for food stamps and to put in that call to the temp agencies. If I think about it I could put on a one-woman show since I moved to Savannah. I’ve taught writing in the jail and community centers; conducted the Census in an inferno; become a storyteller with veterans of The Moth and washed pots.
I’m looking for a full-time job where I can use my professional skills as a reporter, writer, editor, web content producer, teacher, short story videographer and social media manager that pays a living wage and on time.