October 7, 2009

Stolen thoughts: Love for journalsim continues beyond buyouts

It's a shame this comment made over on Free From Editors is anonymous because there's so much I love about it that I'd love to credit the source.

The words come in reply to Beth Macy's Hunkering down in the April/May issue of AJR that Free From Editors linked to in September.  She explains why some journalists are not grabbing life preservers or jumping into lifeboats to escape the newspaper business. She's staying in the business because " I still get excited when I happen onto a great story."

I remember the article, which quotes someone who opted to stay at the Newark Star-Ledger. I recognized Beth's optimism, but think she skipped a few beats  in not recognizing love of journalism is not enough.

The commenter on Free From Editors expands eloquently:
"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."
I can guess where the commenter worked from this comment:
"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?"
And from previous posts, you know I believe that there are places to use skills acquired in 25-plus years of journalism, including " how to conduct in-depth research and work on tight deadlines"and others that let makes it possible to reveal "corruption beneath shiny exteriors ... question motivation and ...  know the difference between spin and truth."

Still, as noted, there are a lot of the same people vying for the same jobs in the region. It's not easy starting an alternative news source - look at the struggles with starting Reporting Michigan or The Rapidian. or the effort in Kalamazoo. Getting donations - ask Reporting Michigan - or grants takes energy and time.


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