In November, the last of what I call the “typewriter brigade” left the building. The old-timers (not really old enough to remember editing copy with scissors and rubber cement paste pot) were the last bastion of true institutional knowledge in the building, took a buyout and tossed their steno books.
With the exception of Tom Archdeacon and maybe one or two others, the last of the true writers disappeared. And with even fewer people in the “integrated newsroom of the future” it didn’t take long to realize, that there were sometimes only one or two people under a manager. Yes, there were chiefs everywhere and even fewer Indians.
So over the last few days- managers were demoted to reporters, and the shuffle begins again- seeking the ultimate combination of low pay and low expectations to create products that aren’t integrated at all in the newsroom of the future.
Apparently there is still an major issue to be resolved with the differing pay scales between news-paper vs news-tv photographers, with the tv guys unhappy with the higher pay of the paper guys. Not that there are any visuals in the paper anymore- or that the video on TV is much more than car wrecks and crime scenes. Again, in the pursuit of the mighty ad dollar, the idea of hiring and paying people who can tell a story isn’t even on their doppler radar.
As long as they can write 3 stories a week fed to them by the Dayton Development Coalition, and run countless “ScareCenter 7” stories about the weather and the “polar vortex” they think they are producing product worth not only reading- but paying for.
There are stories all over this city of people doing interesting things. There are smart businessmen creating the future without government handouts, and there are college professors creating new, original research. There is an Air Force Base that runs programs that the military doesn’t want or need- and congressmen who work for those who buy them. Yet none of this is what makes the paper- because it takes work to tell those stories.
In a fitting reminder of what real journalism is about, today, at 6pm, PBS Newshour ran former DDn Photo Editor Larry Price‘s piece about compressor mining in the Philippines. The practice is a deadly game of chance for those who work for hours at a time to dig ore from the bottom of 40-foot, water-filled pits. Many are children- and all are exposed to the poison mercury which is used to separate the gold from the silt.
Price, btw, has won the Pulitzer prize twice. Publisher Julia Wallace and Editor Jana Collier wouldn’t know what makes a Pulitzer possible if their lives depended on it.
I still read the DDn everyday. My biggest decision is to read it before or after I read the NY Times. I’ve not figured out which way makes me feel smarter- but then again, these days it doesn’t take long to read the DDn, esp. once I skip all the wire copy, there’s not much left.
A few tips to save your time: If the byline is by DL Stewart,
Mary McCarty (correction left with the typewriter brigade) or Amelia Robinson- skip it. If it’s by Lynn Hulsey, prepare to read it twice to try to figure out what she’s trying to say. If it’s by Ron Rollins- expect it mostly to be quotes to softball questions or a lightweight treatment of serious issues. Why it takes more than one “editor” to deal with the 2 pages of “editorial” is beyond me. If you are reading on the iPad app- be prepared for it to be slow to load, confused as to what date it is, and devoid of useful digital features. And if you see a teaser on Facebook- know that it’s just a ploy to get you to hit the paywall- so don’t. As to commenting on FB about DDn stories- stop yourself- you’re just feeding the trolls. And lastly, know that if they do steal a story from esrati.com, they’ll never give it credit like a professional news organization does. That’s why I don’t feel dirty when I pay the Dayton Business Journal for my subscription.