Stop the Presses

The economic reality of working in journalism in the present economy: good people are losing their jobs.

For the past several years, largely as a result of free news and classifieds on the Internet, ad revenues and circulation have been sinking for newspapers nationwide. Sun management and their bosses at the Chicago-based Tribune Company, which owns the paper, have responded with repeated rounds of buyouts, layoffs, and reductions in print content. A newsroom staff that numbered 500 in 1992, when The Evening Sun was still being published, had been whittled down to about 200 before the April cuts.

As a result, staffers lived in a state of fear, mostly keeping their heads down, trying to do good work under less-than-ideal conditions. “Everyone is miserable,” says one writer who has survived all the cuts and asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. “Whatever shred of morale there was has disappeared.” —Evan Serpick, Baltimore Magazine

It’s not easy teaching journalism classes in this climate. I am sure to emphasize how journalism skills transfer to other careers, and I’ve been considering ways to beef up the “new media” component of our “new media journalism” major.