The newsroom was already a ghost town five years ago, the last time I saw the place. It's only gotten worse. Earlier this week, the Thing Formerly Known As "The Paper" (previously, "The Morning Paper") announced 81 positions were eliminated, pow, 62 by layoff and the remainder by not filling open slots -- and most of them were not "assistant janitor" or even "junior copyboy."
Y'know those "layers of editorial oversight" that sometimes fall down pretty badly on things techy and/or gunny? You're about to find out what errors they were catching; the Star's eliminated copy editors. --And still the sneering continues from the deck of the sinking ship: money quote, from a purported newspaperperson in comments: "'...copy editors' (that last line of defense which separates us from the animals in the blogosphere)." Um, dood? Your bosses don't care.
Long-time local print media veteran Ruth Halliday* has more and more. And -- aw, just go there and scroll back; it's fascinating and horrible in a kind of slow-motion train wreck way.
Over at Retrotechnologist, on the sidebar I bemoan visiting the newspaper building when they were hacking out the old presses and carting them away as scrap. They'd built a nice, modern, high-speed, full-color printing plant up across the city/county line, ditched a lot of the older pressmen and the building was never, ever going to rumble and shake to the sound of NEWS! It was going to be gleaming, up-to-the-minute and clean. ...And sterile and dull.
They (or, more correctly, their corporate owners) ripped their own heart out; they stepped way, way back from their product and never embraced the new forms (old-media websites almost uniformly suck and newspaper websites tend to suck worst of all); and what did they have left? How could they compete? Sure, taking the presses far, far away was just a symptom (and what the Star was running were, frankly, relics); but I think the same spirit that would've kept 'em close, no matter how awkward, would've worked to keep the paper afloat by coming up with product people would want to read, instead of subscribing out of habit and to have something to wrap garbage in.
They called me after I let the newspaper subscription here at Roseholme lapse and wanted to know why. "My cat died," I told them.
"See, she would only pee on newsprint, and your paper was cheaper than buying it at the art-supply store--"
"But-- Culture! Sports! Weather! Current events! ...The funny pages. Er, page!"
"Mister, did you ever hear of a thing called the World Wide Web?"
I wish we had a paper that offered in-depth reporting and interesting editorials, that sent reporters and photographers to places no one else would or could go; even near the last, they ran a good series on Indiana's abuses of Asset Forfeiture that was worth reading. But those days are gone, Gannetted quietly to death--. Oh, it's "garroted," isn't it? I keep getting those two confused.
They only had one unique product to offer, in-depth, dependable local news and info, and they're giving up on it.
Will the last newsroom employee out please unplug the coffeepot and turn off the lights? And -- oh, yeah -- us animals would like to welcome you to our jungle.
*Lookie here, Ruth's politics and mine diverge sharply on a number of issues and we're probably both too sentimental about oldstream media; but she's an honest, old-school reporter and strings words together better'n most. And you'll note what her response was, when jettisioned by a panicking media dinosaur: she got herself a blog.