I do not know Ron Kaye. I know with absolute certainty his tears are shared by thousands. I pray they remind us all that this “sport” so many have made of watching newspapers deteriorate is taking a profound toll on human lives.
According to LA Observed, Kaye, the editor of the LA Daily News, broke down when he told his staff 22 newsroom positions were being eliminated. Very near that story on Romenesko today is a Sacramento Bee story reporting that McClatchy’s revenues declined 14.4% in January.
Yesterday, before that announcement, a McClatchy publisher (who I won’t name because he was writing me as a friend) characterized McClatchy’s difficulties as “staggering” and wrote me this: ” I internalize so much of this stuff, I’m dying inside most of the time as it is.”
Kaye’s tears and my friend’s palpable angst should remind us that we are not in the middle of a theoretical meltdown here. From reporters to CEOS this is more than a tough economic scenario. This is life-changing stuff, and the emotional pressure squeezes the breath out of a lot of good people.
I see too many reports on the hard times facing newspapers that seem to lack this emotional perspective. I am not endorsing group hugs or choruses of Kumbaya. I do think some acknowledgement that we are not watching a rage-in-the-cage sort of blood sport would be appropriate. Friends and colleagues are suffering personal loss, stress and and seminal career threats. We should at least empathize with that.
A FRESH WIND BLOWS
Hats off to the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald for their decision to distribute newspapers to the other’s customers. That kind of cooperation is exactly the kind of efficiency solution newspapers need to implement. Competition for ad sales and for news stories can flourish at the same time inefficient distribution systems are eliminated.
This kind of partnership idea is certainly more appealing to me than the outsourcing overseas so many newspapers are discussing. Partnerships are the way of the web and modern business. Newspapers need to dump anachronistic practices and appreciate that partnerships with other newspapers in non-journalism functions offer substantial hope.
STRUPP AND THE PULITZERS
I have to hand it to Joe Strupp, reporter for Editor and Publisher. He has grabbed the Pulitzer horse race story for himself, and nobody gives us the same tenacious reporting or insights. His piece Tuesday was a lot more than a good summary of the obvious. He lined up all the possibilities with authoritativeness.
I was especially thrilled Strupp sees the Minneapolis Star Tribune as a legitimate contender. I have deep affection for many of the reporters and editors involved. I watched the first several days of their reporting, and I was blown away. The first day story which relied on the NICAR database set the tone for the coverage that was aggressive, insightful and human. There are a lot of good Pulitzer contenders, but I can’t help rooting a little bit.