Journalists’ Typewriters Go Silent

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typewriter by Adam Tinworth
Photo By Adam Tinworth

Journalists continue to be laid off in Tennessee this week as The Tennessean eliminated roughly 30 positions on July 9th which ranges from those reporting on the street to account execs to press operators.

It’s not a new story. It’s happening to many of us and it will continue to. The big question that comes to mind, as I’m living it as well, is where are we going to go.

In an article from last December, Eric Deggans asked a very good question. Where are the middle-class journalists going to go?

Now, I see a media industry where some of the most talented, experienced and middle-class writers are being cut loose from the operation. Much as you want to avoid hyperbole and overreaction, it feels like another turn toward the online economic model — where mostly owners and big managers are paid decent wages, and costs are kept low by keeping a tight lid on wages for most workers.

Many of us have tried to evolve and remain relevant with new technology, but there are other issues that must be addressed.

One major thing is with so many media organizations, many times bloggers are filling in the gaps with free content. From an economic perspective, it’s smart business. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just a sign of the times but it does create a gap for unemployed journalists seeking employment.

The jobs just aren’t there.

I’ve spoken to several folks who have been downsized. Many of us are attempting to think outside the box on where we fit in. Blogs are not generating a livable wage unless there is a sound business model with access to businesses that will advertise and there has to be some semblance of a traditional advertising plan.

The online market is filled with blogs, but you will find that most of them, unless established or part of a larger organizations, are not making money.

Of course, editors and publishers have made some significant mistakes in print journalism by focusing on everything but the kitchen sink except covering investigative/breaking news. Journalists, especially in smaller papers, work on sections designed to specifically sell car ads, holiday promotions and the list goes on ad nauseum. What wasn’t recognized is that maybe readers picked up on that people were spread thin. Advertisers tired of special promotions. I’m sure there is more, but the key came down to that although the industry talked about this for years, many organizations didn’t not make revisions it was too late. Other thrived, such as Knox News, that realized they had to build their online presence and have received national attention for creating a viable product while balancing with its print product.

All this analysis doesn’t change the fact that journalists downsized over the past few years will have to make adjustments due to the lack of options and that some media organizations are going to go outside the paid structure for free, quality product.

I think we will see in the coming months that journalists will end up taking jobs out of their chosen profession. Not out of choice, but out of necessity.

But with desperate times, our society usually sees new and fresh ideas coming out of adversity. I think journalists will find a new path, it’s just going to take time.

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  1. Michael said July 10, 2009 | Permalink

    Yes, all kinds of people are losing their job yet there is so much abundance in opportunity that there is no need to be the victim of your circumstances!

  2. Trace Sharp said July 11, 2009 | Permalink

    Agreed, Michael. It’s just a matter of finding the next path.


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