Friday, March 20, 2009

The Recession Chronicles

American journalism is in peril. Thousands of reporters, graphic artists,designers, writers, columnists,and photojournalists have either lost their jobs, or are in fear of joining the unemployed.

Sports blogger Rufus Dawes comments:

Newspapers have been the country’s most trusted source of news for most of our history. Between 1790 and 1800, the number of newspapers in this country increased from under 100 to over 230. By 1810 Americans were buying more than 22 million copies of 376 newspapers annually, the largest aggregate circulation of newspapers in any country in the world. (Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism: A History,1690-1960)

Today, however, is a different case as stated by the Bulldog Reporter's Daily Dog:

"In 2009 and 2010, all the two-newspaper markets will become one-newspaper markets, and you will start to see one-newspaper markets become no-newspaper markets," said Mike Simonton, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, who analyzes the industry, reports Times writer Richard Perez-Pena.

Many critics and competitors of newspapers — including online start-ups that have been hailed as the future of journalism — say that no one should welcome their demise.

"It would be a terrible thing for any city for the dominant paper to go under, because that's who does the bulk of the serious reporting," said Joel Kramer, former editor and publisher of the Star Tribune and now the editor and chief executive of, an online news organization in Minneapolis. "Places like us would spring up," he told the Times, "but they wouldn't be nearly as big. We can tweak the papers and compete with them, but we can't replace them."

No one knows which will be the first big city without a large paper, but there are candidates all across the country. The Hearst Corporation, which owns the Post-Intelligencer, has also threatened to close the San Francisco Chronicle, which lost more than $1 million a week last year, unless it can wring significant savings from the operation.

As our nation and the world faces this extreme downturn, what are we, those you are still working and those who have been laid off, doing to deal with this crisis? Do you have a story, anecdote, a productive insight to share about the fate of American journalism?

Are you willing to tell your own story about losing your job, getting a new one,or starting a new life outside journalism? How is this recession going to change our democracy, the 4th Estate, our standard of living?

How do we hold the government, the private sector, and other institutions that form our democracy accountable?

Join us to tell these stories of struggle and triumph. Do you have a solution? How have you triumphed? How do you plan to survive?

The Recession Chronicles is a multi-media diary. Submit a video, a photograph, or an essay that can help us all understand this crisis and its effects in personal terms. Each entry or comment should have a dateline followed by the author's name and current employment status. You can choose to remain anonymous, but no character assassinations, please. If anyone chooses to name names then the author's name must be released.

Best of luck to all.

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