McGuire on Media

Exhaustion is everywhere in the newspaper business

Jim Romenesko picked up a good one today when he blogged about a Ball State University study contending journalists are moderately  exhausted. I take no issue with the study and I found it fascinating.  It is without question true, but let me add a non-empirical observation.

Everybody in the newspaper industry is exhausted today. I have complained many times in the last several years about the sagging shoulders of top editors and leaders in newsrooms, but that melancholy has reached epidemic proportions. It seems as if nobody can get excited about fixing or improving anything these days. The sense of resignation among the people I encounter is depressing.

I am certain there are editors and newsroom leaders out there who are ready for bear and and communicating positiveness, but I’ve got to say they’re escaping my observation.

Just yesterday, my dean, Chris Callahan, who shares my concern over the use of textual ads in news copy at plaintively asked me, "why isn’t there more outrage about this obvious encroachment on the independence of news?" My answer was fast, simple and 14 hours prior to this morning’s article. "Exhaustion," I said. I contended the people who would normally be outraged are tired and resigned to getting their butts kicked. 

As I’ve written several times, and as Ken Doctor wrote earlier this week, editors are being pushed out of the conversation. That makes outrage hard to come by.

The news business and its leaders need something to re-energize them pretty quickly, or the dinosaur metaphor is going to start to come into play.