Last week, I shared essential tips for attracting media attention for your business. Need more reporter bait? Read on for additional strategies that will help get you and your company the right kind of attention. (more…)
When I’m wrong, I’ll admit it. I’ve never been one to shy away from ‘fessing up to my mistakes. My post on Wednesday about my former newsroom ruffled some feathers. One of the editors pointed out that a two-hour visit is not enough time to assess the current state of the paper or its staff. All I know is what I saw and heard, but it seems I rushed to judgment.
With her permission, I’m sharing some of her thoughts:
“Yes, you were there on a bad day, but that doesn’t tell the full story. We have made no staff cuts. We are down one reporter through a resignation, but are actively looking for a replacement. There were few reporters and editors there that day because of vacation and other days off – the latter a mandate to prevent permanent layoffs companywide. There are plenty of people there to put out the paper.”
When I worked there, it was sometimes a struggle to get supplies, such as reporters’ notepads and pens, but we didn’t have to take unpaid leave. So that is new. And it’s not just happening here – it’s occurring in other newsrooms as well. And the day I visited, the overall atmosphere was nothing like it was back in the day. It was subdued and quiet. But as the editor noted, it was a bad day.
She went on to highlight the paper’s equipment and coverage of significant events. She’s proud of their achievements – rightfully so:
“Most of production is fully automated these days. We have top-of-the-line equipment that is operated by the best people. You should have also seen the full (the late U.S. Sen. Robert C.) Byrd coverage. It was comprehensive and among the best. Did you see any of our coverage of the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in April? It was top flight. We are also in the midst of putting together a special series on the disaster.”
The editor conceded that the building needs work, as I wrote, but said the buckled floor will be repaired soon.
In closing, she wrote that the paper is among the largest and most profitable in its group and that the staff still puts out a great issue every day.
“I just want you to see things through my eyes,” she said.
Newspapers across the country are suffering from hard times. Many of their editorial staffs are forced to take unpaid furlough days every quarter and contend with a multitude of other cutbacks. It’s no secret that shareholders’ relentless pursuit of increasing profits and the industry’s burying its head in the sand about the Internet spurred the crash.
Still, it was a sobering and sad occasion for me last month when I visited the West Virginia daily where I worked for eight years. Half the lights in the newsroom were burned out and had been so for some time, and the floor had buckled in a couple of places. The solution: Mark the areas with orange cones. It seemed permanent.
Even more disconcerting was the silence. It was like a cemetery. And this was the morning the news broke of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s death. The place should have been a beehive of activity. Byrd was an important figure in West Virginia’s history and in the U.S. Senate, having served the longest congressional term in history.
I was prepared for bad. I didn’t expect the worst. The newsroom was virtually empty. Reporters weren’t scurrying around trying to make deadline or huddling with editors in strategy planning sessions. By late afternoon, at least two of the editors had left for the day. No one was working the phones. In fact, I wondered who was even putting out the paper and if they could afford to print the issue given that they couldn’t keep all the lights on.
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when I worked there, a big news day like that was an exciting, adrenaline-filled rush. My former co-workers that I keep in touch with know what I’m talking about. I’m not just being romantic about it either. We were a cohesive and talented group of reporters, editors, copyeditors, photographers and page designers who lived, ate and breathed newspapers. We got up each day charged and ready to uncover the next big story. The newsroom thrived and so did we.