Add one more victim to last week’s list of casualties at the Southtown Star (and throughout the Sun-Times Media Group, for that matter): Karen Sorensen, editor of the editorial page. Sorensen wasn’t sent packing Friday with the managing editor, Dennis Robaugh, and the business editor, Bob Bong, and others because she wasn’t around. She got a tip Thursday night that she was on the list, so she called in sick Friday and stayed home. “So I avoided all the embarrassing stuff that goes with being laid off,” she told me. On Saturday she called the human resources director at home to make it official.
Sorensen becomes yet another finalist for a Lisagor Award at this Friday’s Headline Club dinner who no longer works at the shop where the work was done. She’s decided to skip the dinner. “Since the company is paying for the table, I assume I’ve been uninvited,” she told me. “I can’t afford an $80 ticket so I won’t get the joy of being there. I was shocked the newspaper was even buying a table, frankly. I imagine the editor [Michelle Holmes] wanted to go, and didn’t want to go by herself.”
Here’s Sorensen’s farewell note to the Southtown Star‘s remaining staff:
Dear All —
By now you may be aware that I was among those who were laid off on Friday.
Thanks to a fortunate set of circumstances, I was able to take a pass on the
newsroom death march, for which I will be eternally grateful. A more
inhumane way of handling something so sensitive I cannot conceive.
However, it also meant I was unable to say goodbye to you in person. And I
do want to say goodbye, because it’s been my pleasure to have worked with
you — or at least 99 percent of you . You guys are a class act, and I’ve
been proud to be in your ranks for almost nine years.
In no other industry can I imagine people hunkering down over and over and
over again — with a heavier and heavier workload and in the midst of
serious questions about a paper’s direction — while still trying to do the
best job possible. I know that even in this latest setback, you will carry
on in that tradition. As I always said when somebody asked me how to keep
going, all you can do is keep your head down, remember why you went into
this business and do the best work you know how to do. The rest is out of
As you know by now, the newspaper world is a very small one and inevitably
our paths will cross again. Till then, don’t let the bastards get you down.
PS: Any and all job tips you are not pursuing yourself are welcome.