Newspapers: More Bad News.
And the news about newspapers just got a lot bleaker.
I turned on my computer Monday morning to find this piece from Pew Research reporting that 36 percent of America’s newspapers laid off employees last year.
Seems the hemorrhaging of reporters and editors continues, a decade after newspapers first began slashing jobs. And, of course, that 36% statistic didn’t include newspapers where long-time employees were more or less pushed out the door with buy-outs.
It's no secret that I didn’t plan to leave The Pilot last December. Or ever. Heck, I still get the urge to punch well-meaning people when they ask how I’m “enjoying retirement.”
“I didn’t retire,” I usually reply through gritted teeth. “I reluctantly accepted a severance offer.”
I’m sensitive about the subject. Mostly because I loved being a metro columnist. Even after 17 years in that position I planned to keep writing three columns a week until I was comatose, in a nursing home or in the ground.
But enough about me.
“Newspaper layoffs have far from abated in the past year,” Pew found. “...Between 2014 and 2017 the number of ...newsroom employees dropped by 15% from about 46,000 to about 39,000.”
Good Lord. Peak employment in newsrooms, according to Pew, was 74,410 in 2006.
Maybe it's time to rethink journalism schools. Surely, would-be reporters should be counseled before blowing four years worth of tuition to enter a field with stagnant wages and no future.
Newspaper news got even gloomier as the day wore on. The New York Daily News abruptly laid off half of its newsroom, including the editor and its entire social media staff.
Tronc, the media company that owns the Daily News and recently bought The Virginian-Pilot, reportedly held a one-minute meeting with staffers to give them the cataclysmic news. Workers were told to check their emails in 10 minutes to find out if they'd been sacked.
Look, I’m not a fan of the Daily News. That paper’s unhinged TREASON headline last week was reason enough for readers who long for unbiased news to despair. (Do the editors there even own dictionaries?) Then again, opinion pieces masquerading as news are what make New York tabloids sing.
Still, I feel for the Daily News journalists who are now unemployed.
Late in the afternoon, there was more: Tronc announced that layoffs were coming to other newspapers in its family.
Geez. Here's hoping my former Pilot colleagues escape the ax. They've been through enough this year.