Friday, July 18, 2008

An Appreciation of Journalists at a Tough Time

If you're in the newspaper business (editorial or business side, or an investor), things are getting really bad here in July 2008. My local newspaper, The Star-Ledger, has combined sections on the only two days I subscribe (Sunday and Thursday), while still trying to keep roughly the same amount of content. (I love the paper, I just don't have time to read it more often.)

You'll cry if you read

In the past two days, there's been news about layoffs at the Orlando Sentinel, Baltimore Sun, Wall Street Journal, Honolulu Advertiser, Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Most of the other corporate news is pretty glum, too, for GateHouse Media, Gannett, Journal Register, Media General ... and several shake-ups in the top ranks (editors and publishers).

To cheer up a little, you may want to visit Yoni Greenbaum's Editor on the Verge site. (Yoni has a lot of great ideas for making helping reporters and editors do their job well, as they face a ton of challenges.) You can also check out the SLA's News Division to see what some really smart and enterprising information professionals are doing to keep the news industry humming.

I work for Dow Jones, which is a newspaper company, though I have nothing to do with the newspaper (WSJ). Whether you like or dislike the recent changes in ownership and content of the paper, WSJ is better situated than some other newspapers -- its pending layoff is smaller than that of other papers as a percentage of staff.

Before becoming an Info Pro, I worked as an ink-stained wretch for multiple papers in New Jersey (as a reporter and as a copy editor). I have a great deal of respect for journalists, who are held responsible for covering everything in their towns, while being fair to their readers and their sources, staying up to listen to one interminable school board or planning board meeting after another, and keeping one ear cocked to the police scanner the next morning as they roam around town trying to find a unique story.

P.S. I can't imagine my opinion here would be too controversial, but to be clear, it's mine and only mine.

No comments: