Thursday, January 1, 2009

Support Your Local Journalist

A few months ago I ordered "All The President's Men" on Netflix. It arrived in my mailbox yesterday. I watched it this morning.

The Watergate Scandal and the Washington Post's role in bringing down a US President were, sadly, one of journalism's finest moments. It also led to many people to go to college and become journalists to hopefully affect change.

I was a photojournalist for 21 years and my goal was to make a difference with my photography. Some of my colleagues, whether writers or photographers, had similar goals. We did a lot to make the world a better place. I think we were able to shine a light in some dark corners. Because of what we did, people with AIDS were able to get help. Homeless people's lives were made easier, and people in power were made accountable to The Fourth Estate.

As I watched the story of Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein, I was reminded of how important a newspaper's role in society is. I also saw that the reporters were biting, kicking and clawing their way into the Watergate story. Ultimately, they were working for The People. The story HAD to be told.

Today is January 1st, 2009. The Tribune newspaper, where I use to work, has just kicked 142 people, or 40%, of it's staff to the curb. The newspaper is only going to publish four days a week. What's sad is that it seems that the community doesn't seem to care.

Who will report the news? TV? I don't think they will. Sure, they will tell you about car wrecks, house fires and other things, but it seems that the goal of TV news, unless something major and obvious happens, is to do not much more than entertain us. TV news happens in 20-second snippets of time.

It's unfortunate that those who have dedicated their lives to getting you the real story, graphics and photographs are being mocked by people who write on the paper's blog, "Great...another 142 employees for Wal-Mart."

Across the nation, as newspapers continue to downsize and close, there are people in power who are secretly doing Fist Pumps because there are fewer reporters to shine a light on their misdeeds.

Today, after you read this, turn off your television and go buy a newspaper. The money you spend will be an investment into what's going on around you — and it will keep food on the table of a journalist who simply wants to report the news.


  1. If only it was that easy.

    My newspaper was called the Tribune too. I was part of the 40% let go at the time, part of shutting down our whole photo dept.

    I agree with your concern. Only one of the my journalist friends who I worked with on staff in the past currently still has a job. What to do?


  2. Tony, Thank you for writing this! How insightful and a terrific analogy using "All The President's Men."
    I agree with you my friend. What strikes a cord with me is that you said it seems that the community doesn't seem to care. After serving our local communities for over 100 years that is a shame. Like I have heard so many times recently. Its a good time to be a crocked politician. It looks like the New Times will be the only paper in town that will do some in depth stories and hold official accountable. The problem there is the papers reputation. Is the mass public going to read New Times. We'll see.
    I could say a lot about this but I doesn't matter to me anymore at least for now. Thank you and great writing Tony. I love the blogs new look. Bravo!

  3. It is more than a little scary to be a young journalist and watch the publishing industry crumble. I am grateful the worst that has been done at my magazine is to not provide any raises this year. It is a shame that newspapers and magazines who are held accountable for what they print are troubled, while sites on the Internet that publish pretty much whatever are doing well.