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Your Call

What happens when a journalist loses their job and falls on hard times

On this edition of Your Call's Media Roundtable, we speak with former newspaper reporter and war correspondent John Koopman about how he went from covering the war in Iraq to working at a strip club, driving for Uber, and smuggling marijuana.

In 2009, after working as a journalist for 25 years, he was laid off from the San Francisco Chronicle, along with 30 other newsroom employees, on top of over 100 buyouts earlier that year.

He wrote, "Once you take the first step into the netherworld, others are easy. Your self-worth is no longer tied up in following society’s rules. In fact, it starts to get tied up in bending them. In time, the idea of a strait-laced life starts to sound a little repugnant, the idea of a job behind a desk or counter a touch insulting."


John Koopman, former reporter and editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and author of McCoy’s Marines: Darkside to Baghdad

Web Resources:

The Economic Hardship Reporting Project: Confessions Of A Journalist Turned Weed Smuggler

Capital and Main: Uber Angst: A Driver’s Nights Behind the Wheel

Going for Broke: John Koopman: Stars and Stripes and Strip Clubs

Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.