UPDATE at the bottom
UPDATE II (June 8, 2009) — enabling the entrepreneurial journalist
Jeffrey Seglin, a professor who has written for the New York Times, makes the case that when writers write for free, they not only devalue their own work, they make it harder for others to receive compensation:
Your work has value. If you start giving it away for free, then it diminishes that value and makes it harder for others to charge for their work as well.
I think this is true. One need only spend a few moments perusing freelance writing job sites or surveying the payments correspondents are receiving from local pubs (online and print) to know just how little contributors are compensated.
Now, do I think it’s wrong for writers to contribute their work for free?
But do I agree that anyone other than a new writer looking to build a portfolio is — to use Seglin’s term — a “blockhead” if he or she writes for free?
Posted in blogging, news industry, news website, newspaper cutbacks, newspaper websites, newsroom layoffs, Online journalism
Tagged bloggers, foreign bureaus, foreign reporting, freelancers, freelancing, Jeffrey Seglin, journalists, Mainstream media, MediaShift, newspaper layoffs, Online Journalism Blog, True/Slant, unpaid contributors, writers
For the unemployed journalist thrown out on his or her keester, Jim Gold, a former senior editor for the Arizona Republic, and his wife Sue have created Jilted Journalists.
It’s nothing much to look at design-wise, and the content is rather thin so far. But it has a cheeky tone, and at least endeavors to offer some helpful advice for those recently reacquainted with the ranks of the unemployed. A couple of highlights:
Posted in newspaper cutbacks, Newspaper industry, newspapers, newsroom layoffs
Tagged interview questions, interview tips, Jilted Journalist, Jim Gold, Newspaper industry, newspaper layoffs, newsroom cutbacks, unemployment
Severed heads. A bloodbath. A wake. Sacrifice. Put them all together and you get one blogger’s rather dramatic story of journalists who lost their jobs at the Baltimore Sun.
Laid off in 2007. Relying on an early pension, unemployment benefits and occasional substitute teaching gigs to get by. Followed by a loss of benefits for a month because of an oversight by the county. Former Minnesota Star Tribune employee Delma J. Francis thought she would finally qualify for food stamps. She was wrong:
With that change in my circumstances, I went back to the county, sure that I would now qualify for EBT, formerly known as food stamps, or medical assistance. (Being on the far side of 40 with no health insurance is not a comfortable place to be.) But no. The $508 a month in early pension and what I had earned substitute teaching the previous pay period rendered me still ineligible for help.
“Wait a minute,” I said to the county worker. “Let me get this straight. Because I’m working when I can, trying to help myself — and by doing so, paying taxes to help all those people out in the waiting room feed their kids and keep themselves healthy — I can’t get any help?”
She just stared at me without an ounce of remorse for the news she’d just delivered.
Lou Carlozo was covering the recession for the Chicago Tribune. Then he got laid off.
Writing for True/Slant, Carlozo expresses his discontent at being forced by Trib management to write for a blog — “The Recession Diaries” — that, in his words, “involved me telling very tough stories about my own family finances–stories that led me and my wife to squabble many times over which details to withhold, which to print, and which ones looked inappropriate in print after the fact.”
Then, to add insult to the injury of being laid off, the Trib censored Carlozo’s attempt to let his readers know he was joining the ranks of the unemployed:
I wanted to post a final blog Wednesday to readers explaining that I had lost my job, a victim of the very recession I covered. I posted this without management’s approval. I then informed management. Management took it down.
Oh, by the way: On the same day that Carlozo and over 50 newsroom staffers who were laid off by the Tribune, the company petitioned bankruptcy court to dole out $13.3 million in bonuses to over 700 workers.
Posted in blogging, news industry, newspaper bankruptcy, newspaper cutbacks, Newspaper industry, newsroom layoffs
Tagged Chicago Tribune, Lou Carlozo, Newspaper industry, newspaper layoffs, newsroom cutbacks, recession, True/Slant, unemployment
More doom and gloom in the newspaper industry, with reports coming today that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is eliminating 30 percent of its news staff and the Houston Chronicle is cutting 12 percent of its staff. But there is a bright side amidst the bad news.
A couple of institutions of higher education are putting together programs that should give both new students and unemployed journalists the skills and knowledge to attain greater self-sufficiency as entrepreneurs:
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is expanding its curriculum to include the business of journalism:
[Columbia School of Journalism Dean of Academic Affairs Bill] Grueskin advocates adding to the law, history and ethics courses one in business — which would be a first for the school’s traditional curriculum. Though he acknowledged that the course would bridge the longstanding gap between the business and editorial sides of the journalism world, he did not think this would present an ethical problem for students. If anything, he said, it might help them in a market where some journalists have had to become entrepreneurs to find an audience for their work online.
Posted in journalism education, news industry, Online journalism
Tagged Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Birmingham City University, Columbia School of Journalism, Houston Chronicle, journalism education, Newspaper industry, newspaper layoffs, newsroom layoffs, Paul Bradshaw
So the publisher of the Houston Chronicle sent out the dreaded memo. You know, the one that, if you’re a Chron staffer, makes you want to kick yourself in the ass for not starting your job search six months earlier:
As our newspaper continues to report the condition of the economy, we read about companies in all business categories adjusting their size to match current and projected revenues. The Houston Chronicle must do the same in spite of your diligent efforts.
I believe this is what’s known in literary circles as “foreshadowing.”
Consequently, over the next 60 days, we will be reorganizing our employee base in all divisions around a reduction in force of at least 10 percent.
The Capital cuts over 100 jobs, has a smaller news hole, admits there’s little money to be made from Internet users, but other than that, everything’s fine.
A good piece of advice from Joe Grimm, former recruiter for the Detroit Free Press (as quoted in the article “Is there life after newspapers?“):
“I would use my working hours to prepare myself” for the uncertain future that lies ahead. And, he suggests, devote nights and weekends to learning new skills – database management, say, or PhotoShop.