by Roger Pynn
Last week another wave of good newspaper people left the business … some in what most would call “early retirement” and others with little to show for their dedication but a paltry sum deemed fair by some HR consultant. Imagine working four decades for a newspaper and being laid off while others were offered a “buyout.”
It probably says a lot about the guy … he covered religion … and he set up an auto-reply on his email account that said: “I have enjoyed working here and have been inspired, warmed and fulfilled in getting to know so many of you over nearly four decades. Together, I believe we have helped South Floridians understand religious issues and to aid their search for spiritual truth.”
I hope publishing companies figure out their future before it is too late. To me, too late is when all the good people have given up and fled to other fields of endeavor. Too late is when the public at large says what a major chief executive said to me the other day about a major daily: “they’ve become irrelevant.”
I hope not. We need them, in whatever form … digital, print or otherwise. It isn’t that we need their pulp or their websites. We need content. Solid, factual, creative, insightful, vetted information. That’s all. Newspapers are not irrelevant. They are shrinking, but I hope not sinking.
Perhaps those publishing execs should read former Greensboro, N.C., News & Record Editor John Robinson’s blog “Media, disrupted.” In the aftermath of a stellar career, his “Journalism, one year later” is right on target.
He says, “It is too late for newspapers to claim their former dominance. But it isn’t too late to build positive, helpful relationships with people. Or to actively listen to what their communities want and need. Or to create journalism that matters, whether it holds power accountable or is a list of food banks that need donations for the holiday season.”