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Apr. 23 2009 - 12:49 pm | 146 views | 5 recommendations | 27 comments

The final ‘Recession Diaries’ blog the Chicago Tribune does not want you to read

Famous photograph of Truman grinning and holdi...

At a time when the newspaper I love needs every reader it can possibly hold onto, no story is more timely than that of a man covering the recession and telling people how to survive it. Yesterday, I became a casualty, but as much as I’m licking my wounds, I feel more sad for the readers who grew to love my blog “The Recession Diaries” as a resource, then had it taken away from them without any explanation whatsoever. That I am part of the news makes this all the more awkward, but as one deadline ends, another begins.

This is the blog the Chicago Tribune does not want you to read. See it for yourself and ask, as I would, “Well, why the fudge not?”

And so, the blog:

Goodbye from Lou Carlozo

The recession has truly hit home.

This will be my last post as a Chicago Tribune staff writer, and the author of the Recession Diaries.

Today, just an hour ago, I received word that this will be my last week as a Chicago Tribune employee. So as you can see, no one is immune from the recession–not even someone who writes about it daily, diligently and with an eye towards serving those who have had their bank accounts drained, their retirement accounts dashed, their hearts broken, and their hopes placed under a dangling sword of despair.

I, for one, refuse to be bitter or ungrateful. While it will take me some time to process being unemployed after 20-odd years in the field I love, I recognize now how much I need to take the advice I gave to you with every ounce of my passion. That is: Account for those things no recession can take away from you. Your faith in God. Your family. Your friends. Your health. Your many blessings.

I am part of an industry-wide trend that will likely result in the death of print journalism within five years time. That is not what the higher-ups would like me to tell you, nor is it a result of anything wrong that they have done. On the contrary, I admire Sam Zell and all he has done to keep this company going. I have not always agreed with the new ownership’s decisions or rationale, but my opinions come from an uninformed perspective. I write for deadline; I do not know the intricacies of finance and balancing the books. (Perhaps my early dispatches on the recession front have proved this.)

So where will I be? Looking for a job. Playing with my kids. Walking, talking and praying with my wife. And of course, praying for and hopefully hearing from you, my readers, who have made this year of 2009 one of the most rewarding ever. I started in this business in 1989 as a long-haired kid without a clue about journalism, but a heart for the written word, public service and fighting for the little guy. My hair has long since vanished–oh, the vagaries of middle age!–but the idealist and optimist in me refuses to walk gently into that good night. Nor will I allow it to do so.

Also, a tip of the hat to the best boss a man could ask for, Lara Weber. It was her idea to start this blog, and without her inspiration, support, and most of all guidance and good cheer, I could not have achieved anything on the recession reporting front. She’s a woman any journalist would be lucky to call boss, confidant and dear, dear friend. I will miss you, Lara.

Please stay in touch, and wish me luck. feedbacker@aol.com.
In God’s Peace, Lou


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  1. collapse expand

    I can see why the Chicago Tribune pulled this post. How dare you show admiration for Sam Zell and appreciation for your boss. And your refusal to be bitter or ungrateful? Clearly that crossed the line.

    A friend of mine once said of the corporate shuffle: “Sometimes you move up, sometimes you move down, sometimes you move to the side.”

    With grace and style, Lou, that’s how you move.

    Your last post at the Chicago Tribune…but just the beginning of your posts here at True/Slant.

  2. collapse expand

    Ah, Lou.
    I don’t even know you, buddy, but I feel as though I do. So many of my friends in both print and TV have walked the path you have just been forced to walk. I’m truly sorry.
    My dear departed Mother told me that corny old phrase about “When one door closes another opens.” Well, its really true. You just have to heal a bit and then go look for that next door knob to twist open.
    Welcome to True Slant where you can write what you feel.

    Diane Dimond
    Crime, Justice & Reality

    • collapse expand

      I have had more fun, more real substantial joy, writing for True/Slant these past two months than I have in my big-media venue the past two years. There’s a feisty, scrappy, unabashed quality to the work here that hearkens back to my time at the Philly Inquirer (1989-’92) under the great Gene Roberts and his lieutenants.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Lou,
        In this comment you have captured my dream for True/Slant. I talk a lot about the New York Herald Tribune — and how its reporters brought powerful and credible voices to journalism in a way that galvanized readers. Gene Roberts and the Inquirer did exactly the same, with great reporting and perspective. True/Slant is just two weeks old. We have a long way to go. But we will strive every day to combine the values and standards of traditional news journalism with the dynamics of the Web. In doing so, we hope to serve digital news audiences in the same that the NY Trib and the Inquirer served their readers.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Lewis: First of all, it’s hard not to love a guy with the first name “Louis/Lewis” (no matter how it is spelled). Second, I must think that we share a cantankerous kindred spirit of some sort, one that refuses to believe the best practices of journalism are dead … but that also sees that current newsrooms teeter in tremendous turmoil because they are too slow/arbitrary/bureaucratic to act nimbly in these times of peril. Even my beat at True/Slant says volumes: Faith and Popular Culture. No print newsroom anywhere would consider that a proper beat because you are either “the religion reporter” or “you cover pop culture.” This atrophied line of thinking, not the speed and ubiquity of cyberspace, is why newspapers are shrinking like a print publisher’s penis after a dip in the hard, cold waters of truth.

          Are you giving birth to something new and exciting? I believe so. Let’s hope it grows, thrives, lives and makes a difference.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    What a lovely column, under the circumstances, Lou. I can’t imagine that you could have written anything more gracious.

    How dare the Tribune silence you. I guess a real-estate mogul and his minions care little for a pesky little thing like the First Amendment.

    My days at the Tribune were far fewer than yours, and the choice to leave was mine, but I assure you that carries on outside the Tower, and opportunities will arise for someone as committed and well-spoken as you.

    Karma does indeed exist.

    I look forward to reading your efforts here.

  4. collapse expand

    “b) LONG LIVE THE FIRST AMENDMENT!”

    Sorry, Lou, but the First Amendment has nothing to do with an individual paper choosing not to publish your blog item. I guess you didn’t pick up on that concept in the last two decades.

    Until people realize the problem lies with individual morons such as Sam Zell and his cronies, newspapers will be free to run roughshod over their staffs. Journalists have long been too passive, too cowardly, and too dimwitted to resist the demolition of their very livelihood. Why should anyone in the public believe these people will stand up for them when they can’t stand up for themselves?

    So I guess the First Amendment IS at risk, but mainly because journalists lost their spines a while ago. What a pity.

  5. collapse expand

    Way to go, Lou! I am going to share this post with everyone I know, and hope all readers will do the same. Why don’t you keep the blog going here? It’s the next chapter in your story, not just the next single day.

  6. collapse expand

    unemployed after 20-odd years in the field I love

    I think you will have to amend that part.

    You haven’t been unemployed in the field you love, because here you are. Maybe the money’s not great at T/S, but it is employment.

    A bright side, you could say.

  7. collapse expand

    great news about the blog! and the sangria. look forward to your next posts. what you say about your new beat is so important, I think. We go through school with subject divided neatly, and when we’re about 80, it occurs to us that life wasn’t at all like that. traditional beats are nowhere near the genres we live and breathe. they diminish rather than inspire. glad those days are in question for that reason as well as for others. vick.

  8. collapse expand

    Lou,

    Writing such as “I am the news today, oh boy!” is just one of the reasons I read your work – not just because I know you. I am so angry about this.

    I don’t understand how these bonuses will motivate employees. They won’t for any real leaders, not for anyone who truly loves this business.

    People who love this business would not need these bonuses to be motivated if it meant others could keep their jobs.

    Also, this has never been a get-rich-quick craft. Nearly all the people I know who have worked hard in it have done so because of their passion for reporting, writing, editing, and making a difference. People outside the field often don’t understand the sense of “calling” that many journalists have. It is a passion you have exhibited, and one that will be missed in print. – stan

  9. collapse expand

    Lou, We’ve never met, but we’ve worked in the same section of the biz and probably have a few friends in common. (We can talk about that offline.) I’m just dumbfounded by what happened to your last blog. You walked away with such grace — and such respect for your readers, who deserve a chance to hear you say goodbye. It makes no sense for the Tribune, or what’s left of it, to alienate the readers who remain.

    When I took a buyout from the Globe, my editors asked for a farewell piece, and I was given prime real estate on the front of the Sunday Arts section to reflect in a piece headlined “Goodbye to All That.” I had mixed emotions about leaving, but the time was right for my family, and it made it so much easier to be able to wave goodbye in print to the readers and the sources and the heroes in the arts community who made my work such a joy, even when it was contoversial. I left many good friends behind and have complete respect for the work those who remain continue to do, despite diminished resources. I cannot imagine any of them being summarily shown the door without a chance to have a final say, especially one as gracious as yours.

    So know that I was honored to read your final blog post, even if it was my first. I look forward to reading many more. And I wish you godspeed on the next journey. You have the right attitude, and good things are on the horizon.

    • collapse expand

      Patti: Your graceful comment is one reason I feel closer in spirit to TrueSlanters I’ve never even met than many of my flesh-and-blood Trib colleagues who worked in the shadow of fear for the last two years. They cannot, for whatever reason, speak the truth as they see it. I will, because here I’ve found a venue that values that.

      I can’t imagine disagreeing with Lewis, for example, on something, but if I did, I absolutely get the picture of a man who values dissenting viewpoints as opposed to squashing them. Voltaire: “I do not believe a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

      HELL, the Trib had to squash something that actually uplifted the institution in my time of trial!!! That is unfair to me, more importantly the readers, and most of all a cowardly act. I only wish the person who pulled the plug on that farewell blog had the guts to show his face. Anonymity is great for Internet stalkers and people who turn on the shower heads at Auschwitz.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    Sorry to hear about your job loss, but I’m glad to see you here on the blogosphere. I’m convinced that dead-tree media will be going the way of the telegraph before too long… Probably best to have been tossed off the Titanic before it goes down for good.

    You’ve been there for me more than once when I’ve lost my job, so let me know if there’s any way I can return the favor. (I even added your link to my own blog, so that both of my readers can now follow you!) I didn’t realize it at the time, but each time I’ve been let go from a gig, it’s usually turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me at the time… I’m sure this episode will be no different for you.

    Peace,

    David

  11. collapse expand

    Lou – there is life after Tribune.
    New Jersey roots, Chicago work ethic, incredible family and faith, and always a song in your heart – you’ll be fine. Let me know if I can ever add a backbeat or rhythm track!

  12. collapse expand
    tinnaArtilk

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  13. collapse expand
    cimbalok

    I knew it! When I sent you an e-mail telling you how much I enjoyed your Recession Diaries and that I’m an underemployed musician who sang gigs on X-mas Eve and on Easter at the same church your wife preaches at (LPP), you didn’t respond. My 6th sense told me right away that you had been “downsized” but it was when my left brain screamed, “VERIFY” and I googled your name that I had the proof. I’m telling you here that one day you will mine this irony for gold. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month, but some day.

    Did you have any hints from your 6th sense that you were about to be laid off? I did. I was laid off in early March. I had been considering using a $100 bill to buy a monthly pass Metra train ticket for work. My 6th sense said, “Hold off. You won’t need it.” I held off, deciding to wait until April to buy the pass. Surprise – or not – I was laid off March 9! So glad I listened to my 6th sense and didn’t waste all that $. Now I need it to buy Ramen.

  14. collapse expand

    Certainly in these days, readers go online to read the morning news and supplement their Times content with their favorite blogs, and indeed, newspaper jobs are disappearing as fast as you update your Twitter account; but remember Lou, when one door closes, a window opens, faith in God Lou , everything will be fine

  15. collapse expand

    HI!

    It great to see above, Please visit at which i have an attempt about Chicago Tribune:
    http://breakingupdater.com/2011/01/24/chicago-tribune/

    Regards

    Shawn Navi

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    About Me

    I am a former features staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, laid off in late April 2009 even as I was doing my blog called--get this--"The Recession Diaries." I am still the lead popular music critic for Christian Century magazine, a Loyola University Chicago journalism professor, an author, a lover of thin-crust pizza and chocolate truffles. I reside in Chicago and in various states of mania, puzzlement and enlightenment. It's easier for me to explain Meaning of Life than 101 years without a Cubs World Series win.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 120
    Contributor Since: February 2009
    Location:Chicago, steps from Wrigley Field