Yes, there is life after newspapers

The fate, and growing ranks, of journalists leaving newspapers is becoming something of anthropological subject these days.

A journalism professor is canvassing former newspaper journalists for the American Journalism Review, and might be interviewing those who agree to be contacted. Here’s a direct link to the survey. He promises confidentiality.

Two of the more interesting questions ask participants to assess the state of newspapers and then, in a separate query, the future of journalism. Don’t be surprised if you give differing answers, as I did, to each one.

And the news of 300 pressroom cuts at the Palm Beach Post has pushed job losses in the industry this year to more than 12,000. The Florida paper, which just went through a gut-wrenching buyout that hacked 300 jobs earlier this summer (including nearly 200 in the newsroom), is outsourcing its printing to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Those papers, along with the Miami Herald, once engaged in a famous circulation war not that many years ago, prompting their newsrooms to swell.

Here’s an update from a journalist at the San Diego Union-Tribune on the new lives, and work, of some former colleagues: FBI agent, political aides, graduate student, law firm investigator, hospital professional, communications manager, minister and, in another setting, investigative reporter. Says one of the (journalistically) departed:

“I miss the people, and there have been occasions where I miss being in a newsroom. It’s a stimulating experience…But seeing the direction of the business, I don’t have any regrets.”

We all know that journalists are an eclectic bunch, and their second acts reflect that. It’s the institution that’s homogeneous.

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