The spectre of unemployment 

20 February 2004 tbs.pm/683

Chris Stacey on being unemployed from the media industry at 44.

One can’t but feel sympathy for people like Chris Stacey. Bitten by the media bug, he wants to do nothing else by work in the dark arts that are the media.

But at 44, he’s too old – not hungry enough, not flexible enough, not impressionable enough. The industry wants someone with no experience but a fresh complexion, no real-life knowledge but acne is acceptable.

At the same time, before he was made redundant, I wonder if he noticed that the industry had changed around him? That his evident skills and talents were no longer valued in the headlong rush for Mount Greedy. Did he ever question what was going on whilst he was in his old job?

People on the railways (privitised out of their jobs), steelworkers (ditto), jobcentre staff (treated like scum by one government, downsized by the next), and many more, went on strike when they saw all that they cared about being lined up to be destroyed for political whim by Thatcher, what’s his name and Blair. I know, I was one of them.

But media staff have largely sat complacently by as all has unravelled around them. They watched as ITV was (effectively) privitised and contracted in staff size and wages overnight. They watched as Sky – a low-budget, low-rent, lowbrow, low standards company – set the political agenda for a decade.

They’re sitting and watching now as the BBC founders upon the rocks the sirens of the Labour Party have set before them. And many are probably gloating – pleased that the BBC is getting some of what they got. Or that the secure BBC staff are now insecure again in a way that turns the tables back 20 years.

Not Chris, though.

He just needs to pay his mortgage.

Good luck.

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