Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Will we have a job in the morning?

with 6 comments

That’s the question on everyone’s lips here right now. It’s one thing to talk about the troubles of the industry in class, quite another to live through it at my very first internship. Talk about a learning experience though.
I am apparently the only one here to be part of Romanesko‘s religious following, so I was the one to announce to my coworkers the cut of 60 newsroom jobs at the Mercury News, one of our sister newspapers. Everyone freaked out, of course, because they sensed that we would be next.
For the little story: the Santa Cruz Sentinel used to be a Dow Jones paper, until it was sold to a holding last fall, which then sold it this spring to a partnership controlled by Dean Singleton’s Medianews. The whole story is here.
MediaNews owns a lot of papers around the San Francisco/Monterey bays. It’s great for trading stories, but Singleton is also known for skimming the fat from newspapers with a hatchet.
The Grade the News article above says…

Former San Mateo County Times editor Bowman said the April meeting at the Mercury News may have been a factor in Ms. Goldberg’s departure as executive editor. She had tried to spare the Mercury News some of the 60 position reduction, he explained, but was told the other MediaNews properties were already operating on such thin staffs they couldn’t absorb further cuts. After the meeting, “she seemed pretty defeated,” Mr. Bowman said.

… but to be honest, the Sentinel isn’t operating on thin staff (yet), except maybe for a copy desk I personally find a little skinny.
So everyone is speculating. What jobs will get cut? Will the local bureaus be regrouped as one? Will Watsonville remain open? If MediaNews prefers to cover the areas that bring in good advertising revenue (why wouldn’t they?), we’re done. The south of the county is very poor, and even with our eager new representative, it’s never gonna bring in big bucks.
As a student that is particularly interested in media management, this is fascinating, albeit a little scary for the people I have come to like. I see a lot of areas where money could be saved or better used, and I believe the productivity of the journalists here could be much better. But I guess it’s hard to see when your nose is in the middle of it, which is why I believe it’s a great thing to regularly bring in new blood. And I also think there are other ways to reorganize this newsroom without putting people on the street. But I’m just the intern, right?
I haven’t signed any “keep my mouth shut” agreement, but I will stop here out of respect for my coworkers and also just to be safe. All I can say it seems a decision will come down soon, and the tension is palpable.
My coworkers joke that I should have stayed in business school, but I’m passionate, call me silly.


Written by Isabelle Roughol

Thursday, 7 June, 2007 at 13:34

6 Responses

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  1. We like to talk all gloom and doom about ourselves kind of often. But just like in any other business, there are papers that are failing and those that are prevailing. Although circulation dropped by 2% at the Chronicle last year, Web Site unique visitors rose by 40%. They’re hiring people every day (partially because they just cleansed the newsroom of some old guys who needed to leave) and every graduating intern is filling a void that the chron desperately needs filled (health reporter, art reporter, videographer, education reporter) and they’re going to get jobs at the end of this.


    Friday, 8 June, 2007 at 10:21

  2. I completely agree. The Sentinel is also planning on concentrating more on Web. They’re already doing a decent job for a paper this size (video update every evening, midday news update every day), but having the kind of Web presence that the Chron’ has, for a paper this size, is difficult. Unless you’re lucky enough to be non-profit.
    I, too, used to think we were talking gloom too much. That was until last night. More details to come, but for now, I am somewhat held to secrecy (in publication anyway).


    Friday, 8 June, 2007 at 11:13

  3. Hm. I’m interested in what these details are. Perhaps you should call me? :)


    Friday, 8 June, 2007 at 13:02

  4. That’s scary…
    WEB OR DIE!!!!!


    Saturday, 9 June, 2007 at 21:14

  5. […] 11, 2007 at 8:02 · Filed under Uncategorized Here’s a man who will make Tina happy. Rick Edmonds, who penned today’s Poynter centerpiece, claims -sorry, says- that […]

    Armageddon not yet « The J junkie

    Monday, 11 June, 2007 at 20:03

  6. […] a man who will make Tina happy. Rick Edmonds, who penned today’s Poynter centerpiece, claims -sorry, says- that […]

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