It goes without saying that this past year has been a tough one to work for a newspaper. We already knew that the Internet had changed our business model for good, and not in a positive way (yet), but when the economy took a nosedive, it sped up the inevitable changes that a lot of us weren’t ready for. And what I mean by that is you’re never ready for someone to say that your job or your entire paper, will disappear.
That’s what happened to the staff at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver last week. A talented staff that put out an incredibly good paper. I applied to work there once, back in 2004. I gave a terrible interview, and the job wouldn’t have been right for me. But I did end up working for Scripps, their parent company. They laid me off, too, in 2005.
There’s a compelling part in the Rocky’s goodbye video, when one of their reporters says that even when they were getting bad news from the company, several people in the room were reaching for their notebooks to write it all down. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. If you’ve worked in a newsroom, you know that even though the papers are different and the towns are different, the people are always the same. There are the curmudgeons, the workaholics, the guy who always wears Hawaiian shirts. As much as you hate someone for slashing your beloved prose, you cry together when you hear bad news. The bottom line is that we want to work, we want to do what we love. And we don’t want to be unemployed for any amount of time while the industry figures itself out. These are times when it’s hard to keep your chin up.
All I can really say is that I hope the newsrooms of the future, with whatever technology they employ, can open their doors again and let us all tell the stories we were meant to tell.