Dana DiFilippo knew print journalism was suffering economically.
DiFilippo has been a reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News for 15-and-a-half years, but Dec. 4 will be her last day, along with the additional 45 employees who were laid off from the Daily News, Philly.com and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
On Nov. 4, editors of the three respective publications laid off 17 staff members from the Daily News, 17 from Philly.com and 12 from the Inquirer.
“The day is kind of a blur,” DiFilippo said. “Everyone was just upset and stressed, nobody was getting any work done. I got called in, [my editor] told me I was on the list and that I would be laid off so I just immediately went back to my desk and got my purse and left.”
“I was totally blindsided—I did not expect it at all,” she added. “I wasn’t prepared for it mentally or job-wise either.”
The Daily News, the Inquirer and Philly.com laid off 46 employees due to a directive from the new publisher, Terrance C.Z. Egger, and a future possible merging of the two publications.
Philadelphia Daily News crime reporter Vinny Vella entered the office at 3 p.m. the day of layoffs.
“I walked into the newsroom and it was quiet, which is unusual for the Daily News,” Vella said. “Normally, it’s the hive for activity, a lot of buzz and noise. It was dead quiet, and everybody had this sort of apprehensive look furtively glancing over their shoulders.”
“I sat down at my desk and proceeded like I normally would on any given day,” Vella added. “About 20 minutes later, the managing editor of the paper walked up and said ‘Hey, can I talk to you?’ And at that point, I knew. It was beyond obvious.”
Vella has been a reporter at the Daily News since 2012 and low on the seniority list, and suspected he would one of the staff members that would be cut.
“Forty-six is a sort of insurmountable number and I sort of anticipated that I was going to be laid off,” he said.
Vella has been applying exclusively to journalism jobs and said he is hopeful he will be hired quickly. DiFilippo said her career may deviate away from journalism entirely.
Cara Stefchak will graduate from Temple University with a degree in journalism next week. She will also be laid off from her job as copy editor at the Daily News tomorrow.
Stefchak was an intern at the company since 2012 and was hired to the Daily News in 2013 as copy editor.
“It’s kind of like the worst break-up I’ve ever been through,” Stefchak said. “It’s a huge heartbreak—it’s like you got dumped.”
Stefchak said she hopes to stay in journalism but does not want to experience this heartbreak again in the future of her career.
DeFilippo said the cuts further illustrate why reporters are invaluable in being a watchdog for the public.
“When you cut journalists, you are giving corrupt public officials a free pass and complacent citizens a free pass,” she said.
Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gill_mcgoldrick.
Editor’s Note: Cara Stefchak previously worked at The Temple News as managing editor. She played no role in the editing process of this article.