The Unkindest Cuts

December 5, 2008 at 9:19 am 4 comments

My first two (and a half) jobs after graduating from Penn State were in the newspaper industry: I spent about 18 months as a local sports writer for the Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre, PA, then ended up doing similar work for two years at the The Record in Bergen County, NJ. (I actually spent the first three months of my tenure at The Record as a part-time news clerk, a gig that mostly involved answering general calls to the newsroom, and taking obituaries from local funeral homes. And yes, three months of that was plenty.)

I’ve spent the past decade working in magazines before coming back to State College two years ago. But, like most people who’ve worked in a newsroom, I hold very specific and conflicting memories of my time at daily newspapers. Those memories — of work that went from thankless to rewarding on a daily basis, of the rush of literally seeing your work hot (cold and slightly damp, actually, but that doesn’t sound as cool) off the presses at 4 a.m. — came back to me this week as the bad news about that industry got much, much worse. The Gannett chain, which I’m guessing has hired dozens of former Daily Collegian alumni over the years, announced a wave of newsroom layoffs that may reach 2,000. (There’s a great blog by a former Gannett editor that tallies some of the most compelling stories from those who’ve gotten the ax). And then just today I read this item on Salon.com, which predicts most communities might be without local newspapers within the next two years. Which is crazy.

I’ve long told friends and fellow Penn Staters still in the newspaper industry how glad I am to have gotten out of it years ago; today, I’m feeling that much more lucky that I’ve got a job anywhere, and that none of my friends have lost theirs this week. I’m also hoping this new media reality of ours allows the sort of talented kids the Collegian turns out every year to actually make a living.

Ryan Jones, Senior Editor

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mick  |  December 5, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Doesn’t really make any sense, the whole process of printing old news on a paper and having excons drive around town throwing one paper for every 20 homes, does it?

    It’s time to move on.

  • 2. Farmer Bob  |  December 6, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Mick seems to have missed the point here…

  • 3. Mick  |  December 7, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I apparently have missed it. The old newspaper industry is chocking up blood. The new internet media has a long way to go before there is enough revenue to support the staffs newspapers were able to afford.

  • 4. Ryan Jones  |  December 8, 2008 at 8:52 am

    The traditional media’s many issues notwithstanding, I guess my point is that it seems a shame when conscientious professionals who’ve been trained to do an important job face a reality — maybe in their mid 30s, when they’re trying to raise a family, like many of my friends are, or maybe before they’ve even had a chance to finish school — in which their chosen industry is hemorrhaging jobs at a historical rate. I suppose those are the people I’m worried about having to “move on.”
    Thanks for reading.

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