Oh, the question keeps arising, a simple one, a query that has remained unchanged through the heavy turmoil engulfing our industry, and this company in particular.
Namely, why still do this?
Nearly 14 years into the gig, when so many peers and colleagues have run off to other media ventures or other professions, when all the news about the news business sounds bleak and stark, why still do this?
For so long, there just wasn’t enough time for self-doubt or self-examination. Ten months out of the year, seven days a week, there was always another story, another game, another block of stories to churn out.
So even at night, when I went home and crawled into bed for six hours (if that) of fitful rest before the work cycle repeated itself, all that weighed on the mind was the next group of tasks.
Then the season ends. And it does so amid a spate of concern about where we’re going to be in the near-term and long-term future. Departures of dear colleagues, forced by economic circumstances, wound the psyche and add to the sense of vulnerability.
Look up around the country, and it doesn’t get any better. Cutbacks, layoffs, the long-revered Times-Picayune in New Orleans cutting down to three days a week – that hardly cheers me up.
There’s a sense that local journalism, like national journalism, is sliding downhill, the professionals interested in gathering the facts shuffled out by reluctant advertisers and customers that want everything for free because that’s what the Internet gave to them 15 years ago and that toothpaste can’t be put back.
Looking back, news web sites should have insisted on pay walls from the get-go. Maybe that would have softened the blow, for subscriptions were, and are, the lifeblood of printed publications of all sorts. No one minded then. They mind a lot now.