My aim with this blog is to stay forward-thinking and focused on how journalists can (and should) take advantage of Web technology and trends to recraft their careers. But it’s also virtually impossible not to place this transformation in the context of why so many of us are doing this.
The bloodletting continues at Gannett — and it’s very bloody right now, even as it was revealed that quite a few papers in the chain posted very healthy profit margins last year, including one that kept 43 cents for every dollar it made. The newspaper industry may be bracing for an even drearier year in 2009, and some dailies may be cutting back publication to just a few days a week. Some already are taking steps in that direction.
There are so many startling developments that jump out when examining the colossal departures in newsrooms in 2008. Such as nearly the entire editorial board of the largest newsaper in New Jersey (my emphasis) recently taking buyouts. That one just stunned me, more than almost anything. And I’m not even from the Garden State!
I’m getting all this out now because I’m persuading myself to really live up to the credo I gave myself when I stepped out of my former newsroom for the last time on Aug. 29: “I’m not looking back.” I was truly grateful for the nearly 19 years I spent at the AJC, and for the most part it was a blast.
But the main reason I stepped out was to step forward. The sorry news about the news business will continue. It’s going to take even more effort and determination for those of us outside newsrooms to truly move forward in this economy, and to acquire and use digital skills to adapt to new ways of doing the news.
Therefore, I’m getting an early start on a New Year’s Resolution: I’m going to follow the lead of another online journalist who’s not linking to “doom and gloom” posts about the media, “since they can blind us to new opportunities.”
That’s a terrific way of framing the path forward. I’ve been in touch this week with several former colleagues. One asked that I link to his site, which is about a print copy editor making a career change in the digital age. And who’s eager about it. Another is interested in starting a blog, and wants to toss around ideas over coffee or lunch. My career coach is really giving me a résumé workout, making me tweak that thing until it says exactly what it needs to say about me. Exactly what I need!
All of this helps keep everything in perspective, and there are plenty more people and fresh ideas and energy I will be writing about here. There will be times when I will have to link to the sad, depressing news that’s plaguing our profession, if only to illustrate what can be, and is being done in response to it. I plan to keep those instances rare. I won’t skimp on the Friday Kvetch of the Week, however; every blogger has to have a schtick, and that’s mine. But it may need a little tweaking too.
I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and ideas for this blog. I want this to be useful as I continue to chart the next phase of my journalism career. That so many of us are doing this at the same time can be a tremendous opportunity to leverage our combined talent, experience and resourcefulness.
So happy 2009 everyone! Please make me stick to this resolution!