If when one door closes another one opens, sometimes those doors are simply too far apart.

Yesterday, I wrote about the closing of Vista Window Company. Today, I write about the new manufacturing facility Andersen is building in Goodyear, Ariz. (for which they broke ground and intend to open next year). Unfortunately for those who lost their jobs at Vista’s plant in Lordstown, Ohio, yesterday, Andersen’s new facility is 2,000 miles away.

Nothing’s harder to write about than a company closing. I guess it’s human nature, but there’s always a part of me that feels like every call I make is an intrusion—an insertion into what are sensitive and difficult moments for those involved (to say the least). But as journalists, sometimes that’s our job. And something I heard yesterday reminded me of why:

“For weeks, folks could have been claiming unemployment.”

Just before the holidays, we’re told, many of Vista’s employees were let go. Others, we’re told, were placed on leave without pay—told to “come back on Monday, the 14th,” with no farther explanation. Meanwhile, the company continued to answer its phones and to collect money (we’re told), right up until the Friday before. We at DWM spent all day Friday digging—researching, calling, reaching out via social media—trying to confirm what we believed was happening, but … nothing. What a tough feeling, “knowing” that something like this is going down, but also knowing that you can’t warn people—not until we have an absolute and definite statement, confirming those suspicions.

But then, yesterday, I thought, “Well, in some ways, thank goodness, because if I had have received confirmation and published that info, chances are, employees might have found out from us first.” How uncomfortable would that have been—if Vista’s employees had read about the news long before their company even told them? Instead, we’re told that they arrived Monday morning, as instructed, to be told by company officials that it was shutting down. Their jobs were gone.

But then I remember what our source said: “For weeks, folks could have been claiming unemployment.” Instead, they were sitting at home—over the holidays, nonetheless—not getting paid and left to worry about their futures. Others say that they count themselves lucky for a near miss, as they recently considered going back to the company, but found work elsewhere.

Therein lies why we, as journalists, have to learn NOT to mind our own business—not to avoid those situations when we feel like we’re intruding. Often, these moments go against human nature. And sometimes we’re criticized for prying our way in. But, if I had any inclination weeks ago that Vista was going out of business? You better believe that I’d have done my job, by digging in to report that information ahead of the holidays. For those who could have jumped ship, in order to find new employment, the information could have been an important gift.

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