A journalism professor at Columbia University has written a tome about metropolitan newspapers’ decline and its effect on laid-off reporters and editors. Dale Maharidge was a newspaperman for 15 years, thus his sympathetic tone. From the version posted at The Nation:

“The term ‘seismic shift’ is overused, but it applies to what’s happened to American newspapers. In 2007, there were 55,000 full-time journalists at nearly 1,400 daily papers; in 2015, there were 32,900. … That doesn’t include the buyouts and layoffs last fall, like those at the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Daily News, among others, and weeklies and magazines like National Geographic. …

“For most of the past century, journalists could rely on career stability. Newspapers were an intermediary between advertisers and the public; it was as if their presses printed money. The benefit of this near-monopoly was that newsrooms were heavily stocked with reporters and editors, most of them passionate about creating journalism that made a difference in their communities.”

The assertion about passionate journalism is a crock. In most cases, reporters and editors were only interested in telling the unwashed public what to think. Had they stuck to reporting news, readers would have followed them online. Those in the ivory towers never accept any blame.

The article rehashes familiar themes of age and racial discrimination, plus a lament from a laid-off photographer that politicians and businessmen will get away with more dirty dealings as the “watchdogs” disappear. (No doubt he popped up with his camera to document every bribe paid in his town.)

An unidentified 24-year-old wondered “what do young ones like me have to look forward to?” Answer: A future, maybe, if you’re smart enough get out now.

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