On the Bread Line at the Norton: A Journalist's Story

The Art After Dark event at the Norton Museum of Art last night had many highlights: free chocolate martinis, a tour of the New York, New York: The 20th Century exhibit, lovely guitar strumming by Miami troubadour Jesse Jackson.

But perhaps the sweetest moment was when my friend Christina DeNardo, a 31-year-old from Delray Beach, decided to join the sculptures in George Segal's Depression Bread Line. The gray-and-green men ahead of her stood stoically, looking worn and haggard in their imitation of those dreary lines from the '30s.

An elderly couple stopped and questioned DeNardo. She explained that she was posing with the sculptures because she, too, is unemployed.

What industry was she in? the older woman wondered.

"I'll give you a hint," I said."We used to have ink on our hands."

The woman gasped. "Oh, you're a writer!"

Yes, DeNardo is that most common of creatures in South Florida: an unemployed journalist.

An education and crime reporter for eight years, she was laid off from the Palm Beach Post this September, along with about 20 other newsroom employees. The layoffs came just one year after the Post lost 300 other staffers to buyouts and layoffs.

It's a scenario that has played out at all three major South Florida dailies in the last couple of years. All told, the Post, Sun-Sentinel, and Miami Herald have lost roughly 1,000 jobs, according to estimates by New Times media critic Bob Norman.

The elderly couple at the Norton hardly seemed shocked. Laid-off journalists are as common these days as unemployed mortgage brokers.

As for DeNardo, she's headed to graduate school soon, to become a teacher. Hopefully, in her new gig, there won't be any need for bread lines.

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