It not a good thing when a venue for public forum shuts down.
Or – and this is what I appreciated most – snark from a staff of smart, nimble reporters.
A day later, even as others dance on the grave MP on Twitter (yes, it happened), and elsewhere in the blogosphere, I’m ranging through emotions.
Foremost among them is a sincere feeling of hurt for people who have lost their livelihoods. Good journalists KNS and at MP were told they don’t have a job yesterday. And while their tireless, selfless, donated time went underappreciated by many, what they did on their best days amounts to toil.
As a friend says, “it beats workin’ for a livin’,” and some are in news for the glory – to see their bylines in print, or be a conversation-leader. There are the chest-thumpers out there, the ones who delight in saying they got it first, etc. Despite the braggadocio we see from the dark corners of news, most of these people who were laid off were working hard for something they believe in: speaking truth to power, discovering the odd corners of East Tennessee that make it unique, or simply giving readers a little bit of fun and something to do.
I can’t speak for my organization. I could’ve gotten the ax yesterday. And this just the latest staff reduction I’ve witnessed in a career that’s seen hiring freezes, attrition, furloughs and layoffs.
Any working journalist these days seems to have a story of going through their first layoff. Sadly, it’s not a unique experience. And while auto workers and textile plants have seen them for decades, newsrooms have only been cut in the last decade or so. What the rest of the world accepts as a fact of life we still view as novel.
If there’s a veneer of a silver lining left, it’s that yesterday the community showed their support of the power of story, whimsy and journalism that appeared in MP. And, frankly (sadly), their love of free stuff. What we do isn’t easy, but it’s not digging ditches. Every day we see and hear from some of the most passionate people out there – for better, or sometimes, for worse.
Passion is what keeps most of us going in journalism. Hopefully, the passionate readers here will find something in the stories that other reporters in the community bring forward. Hopefully the passionate reporters here will work harder to uphold the Fourth Estate, find those golden stories and entertain readers in the void left by the death of our community’s alt-weekly.
Hopefully the people who lost their jobs at KNS and MP yesterday will follow their passion here in the community or elsewhere, both professionally and personally.