Monday, June 6, 2011

Consolidation sucks

Today I planned to write about "Ender's Game" and "The Hunger Games" and how writers develop sympathy for characters whose actions are decidedly non-sympathetic. That will have to wait a day.

Because this happened.

Now to most people that's small potatoes: 25 newspaper employees likely to lose their jobs to consolidation (unless they choose to uproot their spouses and children and move across the state). To me, those are 25 friends and former colleagues. I worked for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., for eight years before moving to Denver. My heart goes out to every one of them today.

Moreover, I fear this is the way the newspaper industry is going. Fewer people read newspapers, and most of those wonderful, loyal readers are from an older demographic. Most people nowadays expect to get their news for free online. It's a trend that degrades the value of the product. Why pay for something you can get for free, right?

I say think about the reporter who spent hours doing the research, interviews and writing; the assigning editor who helped make the story better; the copy editor who corrected factual errors and grammar mistakes, and the photography and graphics staffs who produced their contributions to the report. Then for the print edition, there's the designer who packaged all the stories on pages and the folks who run the presses and deliver the newspapers. That's a lot of people who put in a lot of hours to create a quality product. If readers won't pay for the product, then there won't be money to pay the staffers' salaries and they will be fired. No more journalists, no more news - free or otherwise.

You get what you pay for. If you don't pay, eventually you'll get nothing.

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