Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Crossing The Divide Between Sanctimony and Survivor's Guilt at the Philadelphia Inquirer

When nearly 70 journalists get booted from the Philadelphia Inquirer, that's cause enough for mourning.
And it's no occasion to pile on with empty sentiment.
And as an Inquirer scribe, Daniel Rubin should know better. In his blog on, he properly laments the loss of his colleagues and the diminution of a newspaper that was once great, but now destined to be now and forever an also-ran.
That is, until Rubin gets to the penultimate paragraph of his missive.

I've said to a couple of glum-looking people today that there's part of me that's envious. I know it sounds hollow, coming from someone who has seniority. But this will be saving some people from heartache later, when it's harder to pull up stakes. This is a good time to be looking for other ways to use those peculiar skills they put to work here.

You must be kidding. Here's a guy who has a job, distributing his crocodile tears to dozens of hard-working, talented, decent colleagues who did nothing except get blindsided by three different owners in the course of a year. First, it was Knight-Ridder dismantling its newspaper headline. Then came KR purchaser McClatchy, which promptly put the Inquirer and its sister, the Daily News up for sale. Finally comes millionaire homeboy/flack extraordinaire Brian Tierney, who from the get-go showed he was in way over his head and now wants to balance the books on the heads of those who put out his papers.

So, these reporters and editors who are now exiting for an uncertain future don't need Rubin or anyone else telling them about their peculiar skills. Peculiar skills? What claptrap.
Funny, last time I checked Rubin was not falling on his sword, so who is he to give a pat on the back and tell his colleagues to chin up and start singing "Tomorrow."
I find such sanctimony particularly offensive, having worked at three media outlets where layoffs became a reality. Fortunately, all three times I was spared the ax. But for those shown the door, the last thing they wanted was a pity party. They needed a job, and for the 68 to 71 Inquirer professionals who used to have one and want to stay in the news business, getting one that even comes close to approximating what they did at the Inquirer will be difficult at best.
Empty words like the ones issued by Rubin don't help their cause.


Daniel Rubin said...

what are you talking about here? you have read this post unlike anyone else i know. this was a shame what happened here, I was telling the younger people that even though the paper is showing them the door, there's a hell of a lot out there for them and their talents and youth.

Anonymous said...

You are right on the money. Rubin's list of those laid off on his then blog omitted the hardest working, lowest paid, writers and photographers at the paper: the entire suburban staff. All but one had 17-22 years seniority.
These people were dedicated journalists who were treated like second-class citizens by management, the guild and their colleagues in the main unit. The omission was the final insult. Screw them. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Nice of Dan Rubin to clarify that he was comforting the younger staff who were being laid off. Too bad he didn't think to give any words of comfort to the suburban staff members two years ago. Is there a hell of a lot out there for their talents and experience? It is apparently hard for some staffers to acknowledge the injustice they were complicit in creating.