"Save the Star!" is the rallying cry of the website; some might find that a little self-serving but it's more like self-interested, since the site's set up and run by The Newspaper Guild, the union for the Indianapolis Star's reporters and others. Hey, no paper, no union dues, they'd be insane if they weren't concerned. (Indiana's not a right-to-work state, if you were wondering; that union card is a prerequisite).
The paper's owner, the notoriously tightfisted, newspapers-as-a-business Gannett, has indeed been cutting and hacking away at jobs. The most recent casualty I know of was the guy who covered the auto industry and manufacturing; given the way those jobs have been fleeing Marion County and the surrounding doughnut counties, it's an open question just how much work there was for him: "Yup, the plants are still closed," week after week, doesn't make headlines.
If there's less to report and if subscribers are fleeing (to the 'net and TV, it appears) in droves, an outfit like Gannett, honed in small, lean markets, is going to follow it all the way down, figuring there'll be a bottom and betting it'll either be profitable to operate -- or profitable to sell. (At least the hardware? "Hey buddy, wanna buy a web press?" "No, thanks, got all my money tied up in buggy whips!")
But when The Guild tells us, "Those of us who remain are finding it harder to provide the news you need, the stories you want to read and the information you expect," it sounds like a call to preserve a museum, kind of an inky Conner Prairie. (Ha! Should'a thought of that before they ditched the Linotype!) Like the tomb of Tutankhamen, pickled under glass, safe from the admiring breath of tourists and the touch of common hands....
But if there's news people need going unreported, if there are stories they want to read languishing unleaded on hard drives and thumb drives or in reporter's skulls, if hoi polloi* are expecting information and not finding it --
Why, what those poor rubes need is a newspaper. A real-live, chock-fulla-news newspaper! Right here in Circle City!
And you know who could put 'em together a pretty darned good, low-overhead newspaper? Why, a bunch of out of work reporters and copy editors and photographers! Oh, if only they had some kind of a way to organize, out from under the heavy thumb of a profiteering corporation with nasty evil investors; if only they had some kind of syndicate. Or a Guild....
If only. In other news, you would not believe where pigs are flying out of before that'll happen. No you would not. My goodness won't that be uncomfortable. (Might be worth it if they did, though -- why should newspapers go gentle into the good night, put to sleep like a stray? Get out there and run. It might not work, it probably won't work; at least the industry would die on its feet.)
* You know WTH is old Greek for "the?" Hoi. Oi! I ain't sayin' it twicet and you shouldn't expect me to.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago