“There’s life after whatever job you’re in now,” says former HLN anchor Linda Stouffer.
Stouffer was laid off in December after 12 years at the network.
She was not alone. Dozens of tvnewsers, on air and off, were let go at the end of 2008, as the industry reacted to a turbulent economy. Kevin Corke, John Larson and Mark Mullen of NBC lost their jobs. So did CNN’s Kathleen Koch and Rusty Dornin, HLN’s Carrie Lee, and numerous other journalists at those networks and at CBS News, too. ABC News laid off 35 staffers earlier this year.
Stouffer may have been in good company, but she was still looking to get back to work.
And she did. Three months after leaving HLN, she was picked up by Atlanta’s ABC station, WSB-TV. Stouffer is reporting part-time, hoping “to have some anchor opportunities down the line.”
Good news after an initial jolt. “Job loss is an earthquake of an experience,” says Stouffer, who first took time to “take stock, to see what I wanted to do next.”
It was her “big think.”
After also being laid off in December, former CNN Justice Department/Supreme Court correspondent Kelli Arena has had the chance to reflect, too.
“I’m doing great,” she says. “I had been working non-stop until now.
“The opportunity to just slow down, and take a breath, and not be ruled by my Blackberry is a tremendously different life than the one I had before,” she says.
Arena had been with CNN her entire career, beginning as a college intern. “I had a good run.”
She is currently teaching a reporting course at Sam Houston State University in Texas, as the first recipient of the Dan Rather Chair in the Mass Communications Department. It’s a gig she was “very fortunate to have set up” while still at CNN.
“My plan at the time,” she says, “was do both [reporting and teaching].”
And her long-term plan? “I am exploring anything. I’m not closing any doors.”
It’s a common theme. “Some of the best advice I got from several friends,” says Stouffer, was “when one door closes, God opens other windows — it is so true.”
A good attitude has helped both Stouffer and Arena weather the ride.
“I was definitely surprised,” Stouffer says of losing her HLN gig, “[But] our business is so, at times, fickle, that I think there’s always an element of it where you can’t possibly be surprised!”
“I have kids [students at Sam Houston State] asking me whether or not they should go into journalism,” says Arena. “And I still believe that the press serves a vital function in our society…I wouldn’t be teaching journalism — I couldn’t do that with any genuineness — if I didn’t believe it.”