Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Beacon May Fade To Black Thanks To David Black

If Things Were Bad At Akron's Newspaper, Now They Really Suck; An Aging Newsroom Is Picked Off One By One

It's bad enough that David Black, the new owner of the Akron Beacon-Journal, is cutting a quarter of the newsroom staff.
What's especially revealing in a piece from Cleveland Scene is an observation by Beacon columnist David Giffels that because of these and previous layoffs, the paper has no young reporters, which in this case, is not a good thing.

"When we had cuts five years ago, I watched the next generation of exciting reporters depart before they got a chance to blossom here," he says. "We don't have any young reporters, not anyone left in their 20s, and not very many left in their 30s. We can't reinvent ourselves unless we have fresh young people who think about journalism in a more modern way."

Which poses a larger problem for the newspaper industry as a whole. How do you get J-school undergrads to go into newspapers, when they see layoffs at newspapers large and small nationwide? And if they do get a job, inevitably the starting pay is often paltry -- to put it generously.
Even the widest-eyed ideologues who still want the experience the frisson of a newsroom might find $25K a year to start hard to stomach what with all those student loans. All of a sudden that career in PR or advertising doesn't sound so bad.

Some of you might say, well, that's the union for you. Last hired, first fired, regardless of whether some geezer on the city desk has been doing a spot-on imitation of a useless slug since the first Bush administration.
But that's not what's in play here, and these latest cuts went right to the paper's muscle, with a lot of veterans, who built the Beacon-Journal into the Pulitzer Prize-winner it was under the previous Knight-Ridder ownership, now collecting unemployment.
It's all about the money, and for a paper's owner to do anything it takes to prop up the 20 percent or more profit margins they've become accustomed to. It doesn't matter whether what's left will be a paper worth reading.
At least it's in the black. Right, Mr. Black?

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