As I survive my sixth layoff in five years, I question the future of photojournalism and am worried about the path we are headed down. Almost every newspaper in the county has laid off, bought out or done away with positions in the last few years. Everyone is trying to cut back on expenses, trim the fat, and keep profit margins up as the economy starts to take a dive. “This is necessary, these are hard times, it has to be done,” we’re told. Newspapers cannot afford to have investigative reporters, or fat staffs, or experienced journalists with higher salaries.
Maybe so. But many of the newspapers in this country are reaching a breaking point. We have cut so much and so deep that stories are no longer being told, and we are no longer serving our communities. And I am not just talking about investigative journalism, I’m talking about the local high school swim meet or the death of a local soldier.
I have nothing against young journalists; I am still relatively young myself. But admittedly, we are cheaper and less experienced than our seniors, and we lose a lot when we cut our experienced people. Our older, more experienced staff members have seen things change in the communities firsthand, know the history because they saw it happen, know the people to talk to and where to find the truth.
This worries me about our business — because without that experience, we cannot dig as deep. With the smaller staffs, we don’t have the time to look past the press releases, and we are not telling the stories that need to be told or being the watchdogs for our communities.
What is the solution to save our struggling industry? I argue that we were not struggling until the cuts started, and the quality suffered, and we lost subscribers and advertisers. So I think we should return to having well-trained, experienced staffs and report the news in our communities and around the world, the news that goes beyond the press release or the 10-second blurb on TV. Any other ideas?
[tags]photojournalism, newspapers, layoffs[/tags]