Jim

Want to get back at evil corporate greedia? Carving each other up ain’t gonna do the job

In Biz, editor, graphics, newspaper, Publishing, smartnews, startup, The news biz, venture on May 2, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Lots of bitterness and fury from people whom Tribune has canned recently. Hell, I just got a 10 percent pay cut in my non-newspaper job, so I feel — well, a sliver of the pain, myself.

It appears the head-rolling — which seems disproportionately distributed among “visual” folks — has brought long-built tension over how much value designers and copy editors add to a newsroom to a head. Couple that with resentment toward the survivors, and you’ve got a bloodbath.

OK. I get it. Newspaper owners don’t think we’re worth as much as writers (I say “we” because, though I have a writing job now, the better part of my news career was in layout, copy editing and design.) Many of our jobs have become, as The Yelv points out, obsolete.

What I don’t get is journalists turning on each other.

If you want to make a future for yourself in news, you’re going to need every friend you can find. Now’s not the time to burn bridges — at least not with our colleagues. I will go so far as to say that corporate news has already burned our bridge — and this time, I mean “our” in the sense of all journalists.

I’m not saying this to be a pollyanna. I’m saying we need a better survival instinct.

I won’t lie; publishers and executive editors have disappointed me a little in the lack of enthusiasm for Smartnews. You would think that now would be the time they’d take an interest in something that could reduce costs. They are so shellshocked, however, they cannot even begin to look two steps forward in their game. And they don’t really have a lot of leeway; I understand the money is tightly controlled right now. No one wants to play guinea pig.

I can live with that. They don’t owe me anything.

Where I’m much more disappointed is in the utter lack of heart I keep finding among my colleagues to do something concrete about their predicament. Apart from a job search.

Look, it doesn’t have to be Smartnews. Maybe a journalist doesn’t see the value or the future, or doesn’t trust us. I can live with that, too.

Do something creative. We pride ourselves on our creativity, do we not? The possibilities are infinite. Do it yourself, like my friend Ernie with Short Form Blog. That’s a great example of a designer/editor redirecting his efforts to the Web. Before, he was a curator of news for print. Now, he curates for the Web. Get involved with Publish2. Take an ad sales person out for drinks and pick her brain.

Breaking out the machetes ain’t gonna work, folks. We’ve lost one war, already.

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  1. Well said, sir.

    Now is a great time for creative business models for journalism (and journalists). Hopefully some of those will come from, and will benefit, the folks who are finding themselves displaced from the industry.

    Food for thought RE media business models…

    http://www.stratfor.com/
    (timely, in depth analysis not found elsewhere)

    and

    http://www.mediabistro.com/
    (integrated community and jobhunting + news + networking)

    Best wishes!
    Christie

    • Thanks for the thumbs up, Christie. I’m a big fan of Stratfor (though not a subscriber). I don’t know how much market is left for more niche publications (which is what my current employer produces), but obviously that’s a trend — find people who have to have the knowledge and charge them for it.

      That cuts out a lot of ordinary folks, though, who don’t have $349/year to spend on each area they’re interested in.

  2. Jim, just found your blog on Twitter and I’m interested to learn more about Smartnews, sounds interesting.

    Journalism is going through some crazy changes. I feel lucky that things are changing so rapidly while I am at the start of my career. I agree with your point, but I really feel for journalists who have been in the business for decades now and have to deal with such uncertainty. I don’t think you can blame them for perhaps not knowing where to direct their frustration.

    Also, glad you plugged Ernie, he really is doing something different and interesting!

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