On July 2, 2007, the financially troubled San Jose Mercury News told all its employees to stay home and wait for a phone call. At 8:09 a.m. the next day, reporter Janice Rombeck’s phone rang. “Janice, we’re going to have to lay you off,” said the voice on the other end. Rombeck, 59, started at The Wichita Eagle in Kansas in 1974 as a copy editor and then went to the San Jose Mercury News in 1985. In the decade before she was laid off, she covered City Hall decisions through the...

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