Thursday, March 26, 2009

Looking for light in the darkness

It's dark days in journalism.

I was chatting with a friend and former coworker who is facing layoffs at the Charlotte Observer the other night. We were bemoaning the layoffs and demise of newspapers. I don't think anyone knows how to stop the bleeding. So many good journalists are losing their jobs. The reality is the jobs aren't coming back, either. Not only are the jobs going away but the newspapers are going away, as well. Sometimes, I feel like a light is just getting dimmer and dimmer. It's hard not to dwell on it, especially when the company announces furloughs. Lots of time to think about it with nothing to do. They even told us we weren't supposed to answer our e-mail or cell phones while we are on furlough.

I think if I lost my job I would open a bar. I'm good at drinking, it's something I know and there is a vacant bar next to the newspaper. I think Maybe I'd call it -30- or maybe "The Final Edition". I like -30-, only journalists would get it. The menu would be called the budget. We'd serve different things...Nachos would be breaking news. Closing time would be deadline. There would be a drink called a "correction". Maybe throwing up would be a correction? TV reporters would have their own section of the bar and it would be all mirrors. Waitresses could wear the old school green hats. You could section the bar off into sections of the paper - breaking news, sports, living.... If it was next to the newspaper we would have guaranteed clientele - if there was anyone left at the newspaper.

On my way to an Army ribbon-cutting assignment today talking to a reporter friend. In spite of all the gloom and darkness he said something - In all of this there is some opportunity...we just don't know where it is. I think maybe he's onto something. It's all changing - journalism, newspapers, the economy...everything is fluid right now. Maybe it is an exciting time and I just don't realize it? Maybe we're at the beginning of something new? Maybe we are going to be the ones who shape the future of journalism? Maybe so, but I wish it weren't so dark before the dawn. I watched a coworker cry as he left the newspaper for the last time after fifteen years. Dark days for so many of my friends.

It has to get better, doesn't it? I'll just keep looking for a light in the darkness.

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