They are using free internet in coffee shops, mastering Guitar Hero on expert, endlessly updating their Facebook accounts and testing the patience of roommates, friends and loved ones.
Who are they? They are the hundreds of journalists who are on week-long unpaid vacations, also known as furloughs.
Now before people began to feel sorry for these journalists, who before the furloughs were hovering just above the poverty line, there’s a way to look at furloughs as a win-win situation.
First, overworked journalists finally get some much needed time off.
Below are real schedules of journalists who were forced to take took furloughs
- Get wisdom teeth pulled
- Go on NPR to talk about journalism
- Organize clips, portfolio, etc.
- Start a Twitter feed
- Attempt to grow a “furlough” beard
And for news makers, well it’s much like being a bad guy and having the cops take a week off. Now would be the time to pass that sneaky piece of legislation, admit any past homosexual indiscretions or exploitation of minors.
Still, these imposed furloughs have resulted in a one very unfortunate, unforeseen consequence. All this time off has given journalists idle hands to write on their blogs, mostly about themselves, their time off and favorite cereal. In fact, since Gannett announced it was requiring most of its employees to take a week-long furlough, the number of blogs penned by journalists at home on unpaid leave has increased by . . . well, let’s say a lot.
But ultimately, journalists like furloughs because while they are yet another reminder of the discouraging times newspapers are in right now, they are a sign that owners and publishers are not ready to throw in the towel yet on the existing newspapers. While it sucks getting half a paycheck it beats getting an unemployment check.
- This post represents the sole two cents of a former freelance journalist who is on a self-imposed, permanent furlough. Photo of a real journalist on furlough.