Tags: Charles Nelson Reilly, Dan Kennedy, Evil Tribune, Lowell Sun, Pax Arcana, Perk Is a Beast
It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is kinda fucked. There are more professional, dignified ways to state that. And many have, or do on a regular basis.
I’m told that HBO’s “The Wire” has devoted its final season to the newspaper’s demise. But I wouldn’t know, because less than three years of working at a newspaper left me so poor that I still can’t afford anything beyond the most basic of basic cable packages.
The rise of the Internets and technology is most often sited as the force behind declining circulation, ad revenue, and newsroom staffs. Corporate boobs atop the masthead lacked the minimal foresight it would’ve taken to see this train roaring down the tracks. But after years of resistance, they’re finally loosening the vice grip on their piggybanks, and they’ve started to acknowledge that they might have to adjust their thinking. Or at least start thinking.
As reported by Lucy the Dog man-crush Dan Kennedy, The Evil-Tribune recently announced it will make all of its content available for free on its website, a move that even dumb old Lucy the Dog claimed was a dire necessity before the blond cabal of Tribunazis kicked my sorry ass to the curb.
Publishers are also investing more in their technolomogical capabilities. Yesterday, Kennedy posted a nifty story about Catherine Keefe O’Hare, an editor at the Danvers Herald. Kennedy writes:“It wasn’t long ago that a local reporter could head out on an assignment with nothing more than a notebook and a pen. Maybe a camera, but only if there were no photographers available. But those days are rapidly drawing to a close.”
Now reporters and editors like O’Hare get a video camera and editing equipment. So not only do they have to file that story by deadline, they also have to shoot a short film, edit it, and post it on the website, an increase in workload that is surely reflected in their paychecks. Or not.
Because it’s also no secret that no one gets into this truly noble profession to get rich. Or even to break even. Being a newspaper reporter is a great life if your spouse is a doctor or lawyer. If you don’t care about little things like spending quality time with your family. If you aspire to grow man-jugs because you only have time and funds for hasty lunch runs through the Burger King drive thru. But it’s not the racket you jump into if you’d like a comfortable life.
Bloggasm reports that 25% of 770 newspaper journalists polled said they intend to leave newspaper journalism, and 36% said they’re uncertain if they’ll stay. Among respondents under the age of 34, those numbers rise to 31% and 43%.
According to the study’s author:“Those intending to leave indicate that they will freelance, enter public relations, move into academia or return to school…”
In my opinion, this brain drain from newsrooms is as dangerous a threat as anything to newspapers’ survival. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by humiliating wages and 60-hour workweeks. We were all replaced by equally gifted journalists with ideals and hopes that will also, in time, be squashed. The cycle of burnout and turnover will continue, resulting in a sad decay of institutional knowledge. Reporters who’ve been around for years and know their community inside and out will become increasingly rare. And despite revamped websites, complementary videos, and discussion boards, the quality of coverage in your community will suffer. But this is not why I’m writing today.
Lucy the Dog does not have the answers to save the newspaper industry. However, we do have one bit of advice to save the Lowell Sun. It is profound. It is radical. It is so far outside the box that it’s almost back inside the box. It will blow your mind. And it appears after the jump.
(No, it’s not weekly inserts of posters featuring sexiest son of a bitch of all-time Charles Nelson Reilly, though that wouldn’t be a bad start.) Continue Reading EXTRA, EXTRA! Lowell Sun Gets the Gooseface…