The Indianapolis Star just suffered another round of layoffs this week, losing 81 jobs to Gannett’s ineptitude and bean counting. Of these cuts, 26 of them were in the newsroom — including 8 reporters and 12 editors — and 19 were unfilled jobs, all made in the name of budgetary concerns and profitability. The cuts were part of Gannett’s larger bloodletting of 700 employees nationwide.
Meanwhile, their CEO raked in $9.4 million in 2010, doubling his pay from 2009, including a $1.75 million
blood moneybonus that was partly a result of his “restructuring costs and creating efficiencies.” Translation: ruin the lives of 700 people, and we’ll give you their salaries.
Believe me, even though I’ve called for more citizen journalism — and this is exactly why — I have complete sympathy for the Star employees who just lost their livelihood because Gannett wasn’t making enough of a profit. I worry about them and their families. Gannett seems to excel at accounting and numbers, but they suck at news reporting and suffer from a complete lack of understanding of community. Where Indianapolis readers see stories and personalities, Gannett sees dollar signs.
But Bobby King, president of the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild, managed to
throw a damper on my sympathies stick his thumb in my eye with this line from his latest blog post.
So, the answer that Star publisher Karen Crotchfelt came up with was to gut suburban coverage, eliminate an entire layer of copy editors (that last line of defense which separates us from the animals in the blogosphere) and make a nip here and a tuck there to reduce expenses.
Animals in the blogosphere?
The one thing I can’t stand from journalists is the way they look down on bloggers with this sense of smug superiority. Look, you guys don’t have any special knowledge or skills that any other writer can’t get. You have editors who save you from misspellings and continuity issues. Without them, you’re no better than we are. You print your words on dead trees, we print ours on a free software platform. Your printers cost millions of dollars, and without them, you’re dead in the water. I run my entire corporate blogging business on a $1,000 laptop, and if it breaks, I can get another one and never miss a beat. Our industry is growing, yours is shrinking.
If journalists want to survive this, they’ll quit looking down on the blogosphere as the gathering of the great unwashed and recognize it’s the future of news. They’ll quit acting like the crew of the Titanic and sneering, “ew, a rescue boat? How droll.”
Look, Bobby, I know you’re pissed, and scared, and are watching the dismantling of a once-great newspaper by some clueless nimrod 1,000 miles away. But don’t attack bloggers or refer to us as animals. Sure, we didn’t go to J-school or spend 20 years honing our craft. But blogging is more than 15 years old, and there are some bloggers who can outwrite most newspaper reporters. Hell, a lot of reporters and columnists have found a new career and a new voice as a blogger. (And it wasn’t lost on me that your “animal” comment was made on a blog.) But these former journalists are the ones who make blogging better.
So you can sneer at bloggers all you want, but we’re going to be here for a long time. You can look down on us, or you can join us.
Photo credit: evelynyll (Flickr)