Shine On A Crazy Newspaper

A lot of you have surely read T.M. Shine's cover story in the Washington Post Magazine about his firing from City Link. I've been meaning to post it for a while. It's funny, poignant and well-done, if a scad too long (yes, a New Times writer complaining about length -- now you've seen it all).

It's no surprise it's good; we know Shine is a fine writer who by all that is holy should be gainfully employed in this business. I wrote a little about the firings of T.M. Shine, Bob Weinberg, and Jana Bielecki in February. The actual firing scene is downright surreal, made all the more powerful by the fact that you know it's happening to thousands of people every day as this recession takes hold. It's just disturbing and disgusting, a reminder that our friendly little offices can turn into slaughterhouses at the drop of a few quarters' revenues.

Even when the blood is spilling, though, you might hope for a some sign of humanity, a fleeting wisp of grace. Not from our Tribune-owned City Link, which was totally classless about it. Here's Shine:

The HR woman gets up to make a copy of a final form declaring that I do not possess a company BlackBerry. While she is gone, the boss stiffly sits as witness in a chair against the wall, and my thoughts travel from the immediacy of the paperwork to wondering if, after 18 years with the company, I will get even a simple, "Thank you for your service."

Where are the kind words? In the end, even death row prison guards get a little sweet on their condemned prisoners, pamper them in those final moments. In the movies, the predator that killed 42 innocents ultimately gets a, "Hey, you're not all that bad, Jimmy Ray," before they shave his ankles and strap him down. But I am getting nothing but loud and clear silence.

Then again, maybe the silent execution is the way to do it. No false sentimentality. It's a mean bit of business, after all, no need to muddy it up with kind, false words. But I really wish Shine and the Post would have named the newspaper and the manager doing the firing (Jake Cline, I presume). Just more evidence that there is nothing newspapers are more sensitive about than newspapers.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman