Tales from Mid-Sized Newspapers

Over at Digiday, Lucia Moses relates a young reporter’s experiences at a mid-sized Gannett newspaper in ‘I’m doing three beats right now’: Confessions of a millennial newspaper reporter. (Moses is describing someone else’s work life, not her own.) It’s not an encouraging tale:

Give a specific.
We have, like, one copy editor looking at more than one newspaper per shift. And that copy editor has duties outside copy editing, like laying out the pages. Mistakes get through, and that erodes the credibility of the paper. It’s one of the ironies because the newspapers are focused on growing an audience, but you’re losing that when you make mistakes. There’s that term, feeding the beast. You have to put out a print newspaper every day. I’ve seen reporters leave and companies be very slow or unable to replace them. I’m doing three beats right now. I’m barely scratching the surface on these. It’s an injustice to readers….

Sounds demoralizing. Do you think you’ll stay in journalism?
I don’t know. If you asked me that two years ago I would have said definitely. Now I’m more open to other things. Most of the reporters I know get into journalism because they want to make a positive change. Especially the print reporters. So I would hope if I do leave journalism to find something in a nonprofit.

One shouldn’t take any pleasure in this: publishers have diluted their product, driving readers away, leading to further dilution. Much of what’s offered is a thin gruel now: one could almost consume it with a straw.

Some national papers will find a new footing (in digital) in opposition to Trump; mid-size papers probably won’t have that chance.

Local papers have even fewer resources than a mid-sized Gannett publication. Their prospects are worse than what’s described above.

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