Allyson Bird's "Why I left news"
Allyson Bird, one of the best students I've ever had, writes at length about why she left journalism. You should read it.
I think there's a lot to chew on here:
I don’t think the Internet killed newspapers. Newspapers killed newspapers.
People like to say that print media didn’t adapt to online demand, but that’s only part of it. The corporate folks who manage newspapers tried to comply with the whims of a thankless audience with a microscopic attention span. And newspaper staffers tried to comply with the demands of a thankless establishment that often didn’t even read their work. Everyone lost.
People came to demand CNN’s 24-hour news format from every news outlet, including local newspapers. And the news outlets nodded their heads in response, scrambling into action without offering anything to the employees who were now expected to check their emails after hours and to stay connected with readers through social media in between stories.
There was never such a thing as an eight-hour workday at newspapers, but overtime became the stuff of legend. You knew better than to demand fair compensation. If any agency that a newspaper covered had refused to pay employees for their time, the front-page headlines wouldn’t cease. But when it came to watching out for themselves, the watchdogs kept their heads down.
Combine it with the latest from the State of the Media report and it's observation that "nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to," and I think it's time to reassess.
One of the things I'm going to suggest to the S.C. Press Association this weekend: Do Less With Less - but do it better.
I think our audience is telling us very simply: We can get the "more" if we want it very easily. But if you want our loyalty and engagement, the formula isn't more, but better - do what you do well. Show us you care -- about us and about your own profession. And while you're at it, show us you're having some fun, because to read most news sites and papers these days is no-fun city.
(There's an interesting debate about some of this at Slate between author Matthew Yglesias and the reaction by the commenters on his article that argues journalism has never been in better shape.)