In the New York Times article about USA Today’s layoffs, Scott Bowles – the paper’s pink-slipped film critic – says that “we were never told [the layoff] was based on seniority or money we made, but you can’t help but feel that the money you made might have worked against you. …I have been amazed by the names and reputations of some of the people on this list; these are bigwigs. Big names.”
One of Bowles’ longtime friends tells me: “Bowles dad, famed journalist Billy Bowles of The Detroit Free Press, died last month. Bowles literally just returned from the memorial service in Atlanta” to get the layoff news.
Here’s the journalist’s email to colleagues and friends:
From: Scott Bowles
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2014 2:00 PM
Subject: Fwd: You. Essay. Today.
Sent to the staff, but I mean it far beyond.
Like a lot of people here, I’m saying goodbye. But I wanted to say how much I respect all of you and will adore this place forever.
I’ve worked at a few papers in my life, from Arkansas to Atlanta to DC. I have never met a more cohesive, loving group of reporters than at USA Today. We have been through the wash cycle many times, and still, somehow, come out without the fabric fraying. And will again.
That had nothing to do with the paper, everything to do with the people. We scrapped together like an infantry unit, and just the response this morning tells me we are forever soldiers in arms. I have no intention of allowing the last few months of uncertainty undo 17 amazing (and I am not blowing smoke) years in a dream job, with dream people. That’s a disservice to the past, which I plan to cherish dearly and fondly like an aging baseball pitcher who tells the same old stories about the day he brought the heat./CONTINUES
I know we rarely keep in touch when we drift, but I will be at firstname.lastname@example.org, and 310.xxx.xxxx. I hope you know there’s someone n LA who wants to buy you a drink.
But if we don’t speak, I’ll know that you are around. And I will be too. Because we’re permanent press.
All my love.
ps. I suck at emailing, and know I have forgotten people I love on this missive. If you don’t mind, please pass along to anyone who might care and let them know I meant no offense.
Oh, and I’d be remiss as a reporter if I didn’t share this anecdotal lead:
When my mom heard the news, she immediately called USA Today to cancel her subscription. She has a clip of every story I ever wrote.
When the guy took mom’s cancellation order, he said, ‘May I ask why you’re canceling?’
Mom was pissed. ‘Sure,’ she said. ‘You laid off my son today.’
‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ he said. ‘What if we offer you 25% off the subscription rate for an entire year?’