16 Pages

It’s been a hard decade for journalism. Everybody knows it. I’m living with it every day. I’m dying with it a little bit every day, as well.

Because half of us are our own worst enemy — 50 percent of us gather the news and bring it to you, the other 50 percent is supposed to sell the news — profits have plummeted, forcing serious cutbacks that have severely crippled the industry.

What was once a seven-person staff for the desk at the paper I currently call “work” is down to four. But the news doesn’t slow down. If anything, it’s busier than ever because there are more people than ever trying to do our job via blogs, via social media, via websites that are up this week and down the next.

I’m working harder than I ever have, I know that. Where I once sat at a desk and just wrote stories, today I do everything.

I write. I take pictures. I layout the paper on certain days. On other days, like today, I lay out two papers. I proof read. I do podcasts and videos in order to keep up with the times. I tweet. I have multiple facebook accounts to keep my readers apprised of what is happening.

I don’t get any more money for doing all this extra stuff, but it’s not about the money. I do all of this because I do love the job. I rarely, if ever, get a thank you, but when I do it is appreciated. Today, more than ever.

After all, I remember when it was an honor just to keep up with “The Times.”

Hours ago, I just received the latest bit of bad news, another body blow to the soul of my professional being.

Our Monday paper is being cut back to 16 pages.

This is only a loss of four pages from what had been a 20-page newspaper, which might not seem like a lot until you realize it’s 20 percent of your product.

Sixteen pages, for which we charge $1. For the record, that’s 6.25 cents per page.

I’m dumbfounded. I’m sad. I’m embarrassed.

Take my staff away from me and I’ll work harder than I ever have in order to get the news to the people that want it.

It’ll cost me time with loved ones. It will cost me my health and take years off of my life; both of which I’m feeling more and more every single day I grow older. I don’t know any other way.

But take away the pages — take away the product — and you’re taking from me my pride in doing this job.

How am I supposed to look a reader in the eye and tell them I’m doing the best job that I can.

I can’t.

Because I’m not. I’m not being allowed to.

That, perhaps more than anything else that has happened to journalism during these dark times, is the hardest thing for me to face.

 

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