Brian Moritz on the death of newspapers

At Scholars & Rogues, Brian Moritz shares his story of “Why I left newspapers.”

Moritz used to be a beat reporter. I used to be a print and online copyeditor. At this point that’s about like saying he used to be a blacksmith and I used to be an elevator operator.

At one point we both loved those jobs, and then, gradually, they became a lot harder to love. “It stopped being fun,” Moritz says. And that was, in large part, because they stopped being something it was still possible to do well. (I wrote about that near the end of my run in the newspaper racket, in a post called “Playoffs and Rocking Chairs.”)

Click over and read the whole thing, but my favorite part of Moritz’ post is probably this:

The layoffs started, followed by the furloughs. Wondering every six months if you were still going to have a job was bad enough. Wondering every six months if you were still going to have a job while trying to figure out how to make ends meet when you lose a week of pay each quarter. Then the job cuts kept coming. The industry still hasn’t figured itself out.

More striking — it stopped being fun.

The newsrooms I worked in used to be fantastic, vital places. There was an energy to the room, especially when news was breaking. Being a reporter could be, above all else, fun.

That was long gone by 2009. The layoffs, the furloughs, the space cuts, all of it, sucked the life out of the room, out of the industry.

For this, I blame newspaper owners. By their actions, by their slavish devotion to print profit margins at any cost, by their desire to maximize profit while minimizing the quality of the product, by their inability or unwillingness to embrace digital news, they have sucked so much of the soul out of a business I love.

It’s telling that when anyone leaves the business, my first reaction (and that of almost everyone else I know) is “Good move. Smart decision.”

Every word of that. Amen to every single word.


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