This piece was originally published on Tom Huang’s Facebook page in response to layoffs at the Dallas Morning News. It has been republished with permission. Huang is the assistant managing editor for features and community engagement at the Morning News.
Let me tell you a story. It may seem an inconsequential story, but it’s the only one I know.
Once, there was this guy who was set on becoming a scientist. But somewhere along the way, he fell in love with journalism. He was a quiet, introverted guy, but he found that writing and telling people’s stories opened up the world to him.
Oh, how he fell in love with the newsroom. All those loud, colorful characters. So passionate and committed. Each person so different from the other, yet united in the belief that telling true stories could change the world, maybe even save it.
Thirty years passed, and what a beautiful journey it was. But at the same time, this guy came to know that journalism was a business, too, challenged by forces much larger than any one person, any one organization. And he had to say goodbye to so many friends over the years, and… Well, a really hard and terrible day came, one of several hard and terrible days along the way.
This guy had to lay off several great human beings on his staff, including dear friends. Well, maybe he didn’t have to do it. He could have quit ahead of all of it. But then… would he force other people he loved to do the hard and terrible work? And if he was gone, how could he help those who departed and those who remained?
This guy’s friends outside the newsroom were understandably angry, and they called the decisions unfair and heartless and badly played. But the guy wondered, don’t they know that everyone in this had their hearts broken, everyone had something in their souls diminished?
Now the people in the newsroom had to move forward, as daunting as it seemed. They had to keep finding a way to help local news survive, especially in this age of deceit and division, this era of corruption and corrosion. And they had to help those who departed and those who remained, and the future of journalism was far from assured.
Let me tell you a story. It’s a story about pain and sorrow but also love and courage and finding something that’s worth fighting for. It may seem an inconsequential story. But it’s the only one I know.