Sunday, August 24, 2014
If A Reporter Falls In The Forest ...
The painful decline in the newspaper industry nationwide continues unabated. Once again it hits close to home. The Daily Hampshire Gazette has parted ways with Bob Dunn, yet another front-line reporter from the ranks of an already decimated stable.
And nowhere is that more apparent than in Amherst, home of the state's education flagship -- and city unto itself -- UMass/Amherst: 25 years ago the Daily Hampshire Gazette/Amherst Bulletin news operation employed 13 full-time benefited employees (10 Bulletin, 1 Gazette, 1 shared) and another 15-20 Bulletin part-timers.
Now the Gazette/Bulletin operation consists of only two full time benefited employees: reporter Scott Merzbach and editor Debra Scherban.
And that simply reflects national trends, although probably a lot worse, set in motion by a rise of the Internet over the past ten years: Classified advertising down 74% (thanks to Craigslist), overall print advertising down 61%, weekday circulation down 47%.
Simply put, the newspaper industry is drowning in red ink.
Plunging profits mean cuts in overhead. Newsroom staffing has dwindled from 54,700 journos in 2002 to 38,000 in 2012, a drop of 31%. And it's only going to get worse.
If you really think Facebook works as a news provider then simply look what happened last week. The riotous events in Ferguson, Missouri dominated Twitter and cable news, while Facebook was awash in the "Ice Bucket Challenge."
The loss of this vanishing breed -- a good reporter -- should be a wake up call. You know, like a bucket of ice water dumped on your head!