Editors, and how bad ones are ruining the newspaper business
Speaking of supposed to be gone, how about an update on the FJ editor? Is he still hanging on? It's my impression he may finally be gone but until someone confirms, I'm not making any assumptions on that subject -- nor holding my breath. I think the question also takes on new meaning, since his wife has landed a job at the FJ. Also, the wife of the county Treasurer and Land Bank czar has returned to a reporting position at the paper. Interesting what a last name will do for someone. One wonders how bought-out and forced-out ex-staffers feel about these two getting jobs at the paper -- regardless of how nice they are or how good they may be as reporters. The other thing of note here is what their hiring may say about these end of September rumors. Surely, even the FJ wouldn't hire on these two, only to fold or further reduce their production days?!?!?!
Great article, unfortunately as much as I love reading about those who continue to believe in journalism, those who still write from the trenches despite salary decreases and plummeting readership, my heart belongs to those who had to leave journalism not because of the lure of a magnificent buy-out offer, but because they had given their life to the career and made too much money to be allowed to stay.They are the "institutional knowledge" mourned by those still trying to make it work.For those who were forced out, the loss of a career -- that was usually more about doing what they believed in than just making enough money to pay the bills -- the reality is that there is little place where that "institutional knowledge" is valued the way it was at a newspaper.Sure you can go into PR or marketing and write the press releases we all loved to make fun of, and you can probably find two or three low-paying jobs to make up the income, but how do you ever find a position that gives you the sense of accomplishment that old-fashioned newspaper work used to give?Where do these people go? Is there a company out there interested in hiring 50-somethings (most of the folks let go had at least 25 years of service) who know how to conduct in-depth research and work on tight deadlines? The skills required to do work that reveals corruption beneath shiny exteriors, the cynicism that is required to question motivation and the ability to know the difference between spin and truth isn't applicable in many places.Nearly 75 percent of what was once a vibrant newsroom staff at the Flint Journal is now collecting unemployment and vying against each other for every PR job in four counties. People ask why they don't get together and create a Web site with real news and in-depth reporting to give mlive a run for its money, but its hard to do work you love and believe in for free and still pay a mortgage and bills.
The Journal dismantled the features department (including the best entertainment writer in the state and both popular columnists, although one still writes on a contract basis despite working fulltime for a Democratic-funded organization in the state capital...does that spell unbiased?) Then they hire back the treasurer's wife because they thought her name was recognizable enough to fool readers into thinking they are going to cover features again. What a joke. Posh is ridiculous and the thing that used to be the Entertainer is a mess. i can't even remember what the others called. The ex-editors wife is willing to drive from Lansing for a job that pays little, but if she gets benefits it was probably a trade-off since he will lose his after a few months. Everytime the paper comes up all I hear is what a mess it is, and their hiring choices are proving to be as stupid as their story ideas. Quick poll of a dozen friends finds every single person cancelled their paper. How long before it's online only?
How long before it's online only? I'll go you one better: how long before it folds? If the FJ cannot sustain a print publication, that means they cannot sustain the salaries of even an FJ-lite staff. The continued loss of ad revenues will force these decisions on the publishers, and maybe sooner than they planned. Only a true turn-around by GM and the state economy could forestall an otherwise inevitable closure of the paper within the next one or two years. An online-only paper would have almost a zero chance of succeeding -- not without even deeper, draconian staff cuts -- because advertisers which already abandoned the print publication, as if it were a Swine Flu carrier, would be too skittish to embrace the Internet model and would therefore opt for finding other print advertising venues. Even if they were to advertise on line, that's not to say they'd buy FJ space, especially when the paper is a frustrating hodge-podge of MLive and FJ online, and the paper cannot even seem fit to update its contact list. One still sees the names of many of those who have long left the paper. They're sort of help captive or in suspended animation by a paper that they're no doubt struggling to forget, so they can move on with their lives. Go figure! No, except for divine intervention or dumb luck, the paper's days are numbered. One certainly can't be optimistic about the FJ's fortunes based on its latest politicized and nepotistic newsroom hiring decisions. Just as GM plays Russian roulette by letting politics taint its post-bankruptcy business decisions, the FJ risks enraging the newspaper gods by making the same type of personnel moves that got them into this mess to begin with! Tsk tsk!
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