QuoteWorthy #8

“The founders never held the view that if rich guys can’t make money off journalism, then we just won’t have journalism. The nation was built on the idea that we have to put into place policies that guarantee journalism no matter what.”

-Robert W. McChesney, 2007

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Lost Souls

Final Edition of ‘P-I’ Rolls Off the Press

The last print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer rolled off the presses this morning, with a commemorative issue.

The paper accentuates the positive, with the top hed on the site proclaiming, “One era ends, another begins.” It opens: “The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will print its final edition Tuesday and become the nation’s largest daily newspaper to shift to an entirely digital news product.”

The AP account reads: “The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published a thick commemorative issue tracing the history of Seattle’s oldest newspaper as its final print edition. “The last edition of the P-I began rolling off the presses at a suburban printing plant shortly after 10 p.m. Monday. The front page of the commemorative section featured a headline saying, ‘You’ve meant the world to us,’ and a photo of the 30-foot neon globe atop the P-I’s building, which has a slogan rotating around the equator saying, ‘It’s in the P-I.’

“The paper was to be delivered wrapped with 20 to 24 pages of photos and stories on the P-I’s 146-year-old history.”

A video at our blog shows the staff describing their jobs and saying farewell and “what breaks my heart the most.” And “we’ve always given voice to the powerless and the voiceless.”

Someone recalls wanting to be Lois Lane of the Daily Planet as a kid and here she was, working at the only paper with a globe on the roof. And: “I’ll miss the people who worked under the globe….the frantic pace to do it well and do it first.”

“The P-I basketball team.”

“I’m a photographer and the most I’ll miss is its great view of the bay.”

“The sunsets.”

“Making a difference in a city I love.”

-Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher

Life After Reporting

Many ‘Star-Ledger’ Reporters Turn to the ‘Other Side’ After Buyouts

NEW YORK-At least 16 reporters and newsroom staffers at The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., most of whom left the paper in the past year’s massive buyout, are now working for public officials or state agencies the paper covers.

In several cases, writers who covered a specific beat are now working for individuals or agencies upon which they once reported.

Star-Ledger Editor Jim Willse told E&P it was not a surprise that so many of his former staffers had found such positions, and believed the paper would maintain quality coverage either way. “I don’t have any view on it; it is not unusual,” he added.

Several of those who switched jobs said they understand why some would look at their change in position as unusual, but said they bring the same accuracy and honesty to their new jobs, many as public information officers, that they did to reporting.

“I had no idea what I was going to do, I didn’t think I would take it,” Wayne Woolley says of the buyout offer that came forward last summer and offered most employees one-year’s salary. “I started looking around and had a preliminary conversation with some folks in government, it was a matter of luck.”

Woolley, a military affairs writer whose career spanned 15 years with the Star-Ledger, The Detroit News and the Associated Press, believes his new job at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is a good fit.

“I would have a hard time doing this for an organization I didn’t believe in,” he said, noting that the paper does lose some “institutional memory” when so many veterans depart.

“It is upsetting.” Jim O’Neill, who spent 31 years at the Star-Ledger, believes he can bring a sense of news to his new post with the county prosecutor, which he contends is a plus for residents. “The Ledger’s loss is a gain for the people in the public sector who are able to hire talented reporters,” he said. “The public is well-served because I want to make the office look good, and to do that I want to be cooperative and as helpful as I can.”

John Holl, who covered Hunterdon County for the newspaper but now works in Union County, says he would not have taken a job in the county he covered. Holl, who left in 2008 prior to the buyout, says he does not believe it is a conflict to work for a public agency after being a reporter.

“I had a clear conscience with that,” he says. “I like to think that one of the reasons I took this job is that they want transparency.”

-Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher

QuoteWorthy #7

“Good writing, detailed reporting and in general great storytelling are never going to go out of style.”

-Michael Wilbon, 2007

Breaking Through

I met him months ago, the executive director of the such-and-such public authority. It’s an authority within my beat; I can’t avoid him.  The first time I called: “I really don’t have the time, Darlin'” and “Why do you want to know that?”

The second meeting was in person. “Hmmph,” he implied, looking me over. Yes, I am female. Yes, I am rather young. No, I am not an imbecile. And I know my questions are exhaustive. That’s the point.

Ackward encounters dotted the next few months.

Then today, I finally broke through. It happened this morning, and I nearly leapt out of my heels. “Well, you sure don’t play, do you?” he asked, laughing. No, I don’t. Then he gave me all the information I needed, absolutely no beef, a few decent quotes and a sense of accomplishment.

“I’ll see you at the next meeting,” he said. “I’ll have my game face on.”

QuoteWorthy #6

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”

-Mahatma Gandhi, 1942

Where’d the Watchdogs Go?

A vacant echo within L.A. County press corps.

James Rainey, Los Angeles Times

I’ve covered a few natural disasters in my time, and the evacuation scenes looked something like this: rooms abandoned in a hurry, filled only with ghosts. Mail piled up, unopened. Phones that kept ringing, with nobody left to answer.

The latest civic emergency comes not with a rush of flames or jolt of earth. It has crept up slowly in an unexpected place: the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration press room.

A slow plague has reduced the corps of journalists who cover county government to four. That’s just four reporters (and one of them has other responsibilities) who focus a critical eye on the biggest local government in America — a $22-billion behemoth that provides policing, healthcare, welfare and more to a county of nearly 10 million people.

As concern about the economic crisis spreads, everyone should be alarmed that the ranks of the watchdogs assessing the fallout for government have been cut to shreds.

For the full article, visit http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-onthemedia18-2009jan18,0,2214604.column