I've been busy working at the New Haven Independent, one of the forward-looking news media that, one hopes, will be the future of what we now call print journalism. That and being sick kept me away from my favorite blog. To all of you who checked in from time to time, thanks. I'll try not to stay away so long. And yes, I feel much better.
This has not been a good month or so for print journalism. You already know the Rocky (Denver's former Rocky Mountain News) has closed, leaving Denver a one-newspaper town. Now, Seattle's P-I, the Post-Intelligencer, has published its last print edition, leaving this great city with but one newspaper and an on-line publication.
I just sent a nasty note to the folks at Helium, which started out as a blogging site, much like the Blogspot that hosts this posting.
They are soliciting contributions of opinion on various issues from amateurs. The latest was an issue in Fairfield (the solicitation mentioned a Fairfield County Board of Education which, of course, does not exist.) I got back a note, saying they are not displacing journalists, but just asking for opinions from citizens. The Independent has room for opinions at the end of stories. The Independent doesn't need a firm to solicit those opinions.
The folks at Helium think they are not hurting journalists. They are wrong.
With the goings on at Journal-Register and 48 people taking a buyout at the Hearst newspapers in Connecticut (Bridgeport, Stamford, Greenwich, Danbury and some weeklies). To take a buyout in this market is an act of desperation, brought about by two things.
I write about this from first-person experience, having taken such a buyout from Gannett, couched as an early retirement plan.
First, you take it because you realize that if you don't take the buyout, when the inevitable layoffs come, your name will be first on the hit parade. You realize that the incentives to sweeten the offer are, in all probability, much better than the parting gifts you will get with a real layoff.
Second, you realize that the place for which you are working is not even remotely the place at which you came to work years before. The management has changed, the strategies have changed, the things that were important to you are not important to management.
You signed on to improve your little piece of the world. That's not important to your bosses now. Money is.
The sad thing is you are forced to make the decision yourself. In my case, it was easy. The offer was really good, and the place for which I worked was run by people who did not see the newspaper the way I did. It doesn't make them bad people. Not in my case.
I had worked for the New Haven Register and the Journal-Courier. They were fine newspapers with dedicated, talented journalists. The New Haven Register still has dedicated, talented writers, editors and photographers.
I also know some of the people who work for Hearst, especially in Bridgeport. They are talented and dedicated as well. And, I would guess, some of them will be unemployed a month from now.
I wish them all the luck there is.
Until next time...