A few examples of journalists who’ve left newsrooms and have continued their careers on the Web offer clear-eyed assessments of the challenges for this profession in a very difficult time.
Former Albuquerque newspaper reporter Heath Haussamen took a risk last year to start his own blog devoted to politics and public policy in New Mexico, and has reasons to be optimistic about his venture:
“Though I was effectively leaping off a proverbial cliff when I left behind a stable paycheck, employer-paid health insurance and employer contributions to my 401(k) in May 2006 to start my own business, it’s worked thus far. And, despite the economic downturn, my little business appears poised to survive.”
But he fears that many journalists will have to find other work because of the sheer numbers of buyouts and layoffs. Like many of us, he sees the newspaper industry’s decline on the effects of open government as great a concern as the downsizing of newsrooms.
A laid-off legal affairs reporter in Floria has also found a new professional life on the Web that is keeping him busy. Former St. Petersburg Times veteran Scott Barancik is not certain yet whether he can make a living off his site, but believes there’s no other choice than to try:
“I would encourage anyone who’s laid off to think entrepreneurially about their skills and not to underestimate their value in the marketplace, particularly at a time when there may not be jobs out there.”