[After the latest rounds of layoffs at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the city's alt-weekly, Memphis Flyer, published a hard-hitting look at the current condition of the daily paper — an article that left CA editor Chris Peck rather publicly upset. Bill Day “reaches out” to his former boss in this letter to the Memphis Flyer.]
Don't Slash Your Wrists
I read with sadness Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck's recent Sunday column lament that he considered slashing his wrists over an accurate but incomplete story in a rival publication's account of his stewardship of the newspaper. The full story is far worse.
For 11 years of award-winning work at the CA as the editorial cartoonist, I often acted as its public ambassador-at-large. I always spoke proudly of the role the CA plays in this community. I talked to dozens of civic groups, gave hundreds of school presentations, and mentored many young artists. Then, one day a month ago, I was summoned to the personnel department. I sat next to Peck as I was told to relinquish my ID card and office keys and ordered out of the building within the hour.
That afternoon, I went home to inform my wife and three young sons of my layoff. It was a crushing experience to explain it to them, and they wept. So did I. After more than 25 years in a specialized career, I have yet to be offered any opportunities to display my talents for employment. Foreclosure on my home looms on the horizon, and my weekly unemployment check barely covers the groceries, let alone any insurance premiums for my family. I can forget the dream of sending my children to college. An ambiguous offer of freelance work was offered by Peck, as if I could support a family on it.
In short, I have joined the many former employees of The Commercial Appeal in an agony of nightmares and despair. Yet strangely, like most of them, I still love the newspaper and I pray with all my heart that it survives. I guess old habits die hard.
should consider slashing their wrists, it is those of us he has thrown
to the wolves. But we will endure and survive somehow. I need to inform
Peck that, as he has told us, the personnel department is available to
help with counseling so that he can get a better perspective on life. The
poor man. Please, Chris, don't slash your wrists.
—Bill Day, Memphis