The Stringer

15 Feb

The Stringer

Stringer. The Online Etymology Dictionary defines the word as a “newspaper correspondent paid by length of copy.”

When I was in high school, the word was linked to first or second stringer — or worse — and referred to whether or not you started in football, or basketball, or whatever team sport you played.

So now I’m a stringer. My length of copy is limited to 700 words a week. When Charles Dickens first started writing, his stories were published in the newspaper at a penny a word — that’s partly why they’re so long! So for me, that would be $7 dollars a column. Even with inflation dating back to Dickens’ day, I’m sure the figure is not much more impressive. At least it’s worth a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s!

And, as they say, it’s a start.

The irony is that what I’m going to be stringing together — if that’s the operative verb for the noun — is stories about people in my neck of the woods who found themselves unemployed. How’s that ironic? Because I walked into editor John Miller’s office at the Hickory Daily Record to basically beg for feature scraps to write. I was unemployed myself.

For whatever reason — downsizing, a serious goof at work, a cranky manager or boss, age — the stories I am digging up to relate are about people who bear the brunt of the unemployment statistics in the Unifour area (Unifour is the collective term for Catawba, Burke, Cleveland and Caldwell Counties).

The Unifour area, and specifically Hickory, is one of the hardest-hit areas of unemployment in the nation. We have the questionable distinction of being Number Eight of the Top Ten Cities nationwide. Yay.  (Please note the lack of an exclamation mark).

In other words, it’s not too difficult to find the stories.

The weekly column, aptly named The Unemployment Line, will appear in the Hickory Daily Record in print and on line beginning Sunday, March 4. The tone will be positive, following how out-of-work people managed to survive not only the blow of being fired or laid off, but were successful in reinventing themselves, thanks to the aiding and abetting of local services and programs.

We’ll also address the dynamics — social, emotional, psychological and spiritual — as well as financial, of course, of how job loss impacts the individual, the family, the neighborhood and the community.

In addition, I’ll make available information that should prove helpful to those who have just lost their job, or those who have been out of work for an extended period of time. Even though this column is particular to the Unifour area, it will contain information that will cross into every state and county in the nation. The support systems remain the same just about everywhere. Only difference might be the name.

So, please, if you know anyone who is struggling with job loss, impending job loss, or even has the most secure job in the world (not sure just who that would be), direct them to this specific blog.

And, like we say in the South: don’t work too hard!


2 Responses to “The Stringer”

  1. Alex Rooker March 4, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Welcome to the HDR.
    Your assignment should prove to be very interesting to follow.

    I get to see a fair amount of the ancillary aspects of the local economy. I write the real estate feature each week.

    Your blog vignette, Chapter two, pulled me in to looking deeper down the blog trail.

    Hope to cross paths some time,

    • skipmars March 4, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      Thanks for your comments. I’ve enjoyed using my blog as an historical trash bin for my meanderings. As far as my exposure, it’s been mainly through my Facebook “friends.” HDR is the first opportunity I’ve had to publicize the blog outside of the internet. I expect the number of views on the site will pop up a little. May I recommend Word Press as a blog host? For another $25 a year, you can capture your own URL, which should make it easier for readers to find you.

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