Category Archives: The End of Professional Journalism?

Been gone, but it’s been good

I haven’t updated for a very long time, but a lot has been going on in my life. I’ve been very busy at work, including obtaining a higher position along with a nice pay upgrade. So if the newspaper industry is hurting, at least it’s no affecting me negatively… yet.

News corporations all over the nation are looking at different ways to save money, with layoffs being a last resort. Some have done a sort of rat race to the finish line by making people already in good managerial positions re-interview for their jobs, regionalizing positions and only keeping the best. As you might know from reading my previous entries, other companies have furloughed (unpaid vacation) and some have decided that anyone making more than a certain (pretty high) amount of money will have to take a pay cut for one or two weeks.

Either way, my hopes are higher for the survival of newspapers. My feelings are still up in the air for whether the print version of them will ever be able to succeed the way it once did, but whether it’ll be in a weekly form, online form or whatever other form it could possibly take, writing reporters will always be aorund. Can you imagine if the only reporters that existed were the reporters on TV? Ugh.

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Positions Opening

With all the layoff scares and the demoralizing newspaper buzz, people that have survived layoff rounds in the newsroom are looking for other jobs… which means vacating their reporting positions.

Recently, I met with one of the editors of the newspaper I work for and he told me he is faced with an interesting but precarious situation. He is interviewing people for a reporting position, which is usually highly sought after because our newspaper is one of the largest in my state. But for once in his life, the people applying are extremely inexperienced.

That is probably leaving him in a weird position. How can you depend on someone without experience? The newspaper’s name is at stake, it’s reputation.

It seems that all the doubt clouding the air of job security at a newspaper has begun to really take affect. Less people want to work for newspapers and more are leaving to pursue much more secure jobs like teachers or professors at colleges.

My theory is in the early stages. People will lose their communication line if newspapers and media in general continue down this lane. What will happen if there was no one left to report the news? Interesting.

Contradictory News

Rupert Murdoch, media mogul, called those who feel the Internet is the death of the newspaper “misguided cynics who are too busy writing their own obituary to be excited by the opportunity.” Funny, well put.

But how far off are those cynics? It’s easy for someone like Murdoch to sit high upon his billions looking down on lowly reporters making less than $30,000 who don’t have the resources or time to come up with a new way to profit from news.

Even CEO’s of newspapers, who have the time, money and resources are failing to come up with ideas—and in the meantime, their employees, those lower on the totem poll suffer!  And, now this is just a guess, I’m pretty sure newspaper exec’s are still making a pretty penny.

So if the optimist, Rupert Murdoch, has any ideas, by all means, can we hear them? Because I, for one, do not want to go through another round of layoffs; I fear I will not be as lucky again.

Not Out Of The Woods Yet

So, it turns out that my job was more affected by the recent layoffs than I had originally thought. I knew, of course, that the work load was going to increase, with less staff and the same amount of work—it seemed obvious. But the corporate company cut more at my specific paper than anywhere else in my state, since it is the biggest one among them. They also decided to combine classifieds and advertising with papers across the state (owned by the same company) so it is all at one location, my location. But advertising? I’m in the newsroom…shouldn’t bother me right?

Wrong.

Certain positions and aspects that were previously done in the newsroom, by journalists, because they follow AP style, have copy editors etc., etc. have now been moved to the dreaded advertising department. Don’t get me wrong, if advertising is what you want to do, more power to you. It just isn’t my cup of tea.

Half of my position’s duties have been moved to advertising, they say temporarily, until they can hire and have me train people to take my position. Does anyone see something wrong with this picture? You laid people off so you can hire more in a different department? Riiiight.

Needless to say my first day in advertising was hell on earth.

An All-Out Layoff Massacre

The newsroom is a rather bleak place this week. Layoffs have been announced, but no one knows if the list has been completed yet. It is rumored that there are a few more days to announce the final few, so no one can exhale yet.

Having never experienced such drastic and immediate changes at work before, I have to say, I don’t think it’s something I can get used to. There were tears, hugs, angry faces, looks of confusion and boxes of things people had at their desks for what seemed like forever.

The newspaper I work for is owned by one of the three large corporate newspaper companies. I want the company to remain anonymous because I do love my job.

I wonder how the corporations chose who to layoff. I wonder if they just gave the same email out that everyone in my office got, explaining that there would be a 10% cut and the managing editors’ would have to meet their layoff quota. Were the managing editors’ really handed the reigns and told to cut people they feel are the least necessary? Or were they told to cut specific people.

Because from what I have seen and heard, the editors’ seemed very unaware of most of the changes until the very day they had to bring people in. And I know for a fact that one person would not have gotten laid off if it was up to his/her managing editor. The position ordered to be eliminated could only have come from a distant land (like corporate headquarters) that had absolutely no idea how it would affect the efficiency here at the ground level.

I know this is never a good time for any company, corporate or small. There isn’t an easy way to tell anyone who’s done nothing wrong to hit the bricks. But there has to be a better way to let people go. Calling them in like cattle while everyone around knows what’s happening is probably one of the worst ways to do it, other than announcing it over the intercom.

Low Morale in the Newsroom

About 2 months ago an email was sent out to everyone working in my office. It explained there would be a 10% involuntary staff reduction effective between Monday, Dec. 1 and Wednesday, Dec. 3 2008. So, as you can imagine, the morale in the newsroom is irregularly low. Meanwhile, new (and expensive) technology upgrades are being added to our facility.

One can’t help but wonder how news corporations prioritize their budgets, let alone time construction of costly upgrades in the face of large layoffs.

People who judge the media so harshly, forget that they are people too, facing hard economic times, losing jobs, worrying about money and life, much like everyone else, only they’ve been facing these problems before the economic crisis. The economy has little or nothing to do with the extinction newspapers are grappling with.

Reliance on Journalists

Okay, I might have been venting a little when I posted my last piece called A True Professional. I was just feeling sorry for myself because I went to college majoring in journalism, I feel very passionately about it and I truly feel it is a calling and not just “anybody” can do it. I got caught up in reading other blogs, all damning newspapers to the bottom of hell and beyond and I got fed up. But I am calm now, feeling a lot better and less emotional.

The truth is, (ever wonder why people start with that? Like they were lying the whole time or something) blogs and citizen input has proven less valuable due to the fact that nothing is new or verifiable. Bloggers report on stories that have already been investigated, written up, edited and published by professionals.

This is comforting to me because this proves to me that journalists will have a fighting chance to regain their audience and their audiences’ trust and stick around—where would blogging be without them?