For those who don’t know, I spent a bulk of my professional career working for newspapers. It started when I was in high school, took me through the college years, and then after.
I used to love newspapers and working for them.
There was something noble, to a point, about working for a newspaper. The term “journalist” wasn’t thrown around so easily. We were newspaper people, or reporters, or something along those lines.
The word journalist has grown in recent years, and that’s probably with the increased growth in citizen journalism and such. I always get a kick how anybody who works for news organizations tend to use the word journalist. No longer are people necessarily sports writers, or news reporters or a photographer. It’s a sports journalist, or a photo journalist, or just a journalist.
Media credentials are handed out, it seems, a little more easily.
Such is the growth and death of an industry.
As social media, online portals and everything else grows, the local newspaper continues to struggle. At the one paper I was at for seven years, the circulation was at about 24,000 or so when I started in 2004. From what I was told from friends still there, it’s not even 11,000 anymore.
That’s a drop.
When I was there, we had mandatory furloughs and it was very hard to make ends meet. What made it decent was working with a decent group of people who believed in what we were doing.
In 2011, I was forced out of the industry. It took a while, but I landed on my feet in the PR field and have been extremely happy ever since. Though, to be fair, it’s not easy to get things in these newspapers, which is something for a different time.
But that’s not the full reason behind this post – rather this is an edition of Really? in a journalism package.
Look, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t keep a watch on things in the newspaper world. It was a massive part of my life and I loved it. I always got a rush of a byline and it helped shape me to who I am in today. But it also gives me a different set of glassed when reading now. I pick up errors. I wonder what people are doing. I realize newspapers are understaffed, but there are things (such as editing) people really need to worry about.
And then there’s still the beauty in journalism and knowing the word can be a way to show how silly some things are.
So, without further ado, allow me to share a few things I’ve found recently.
One thing about newsrooms is they can be a place for candid comments, off-color humor, sailor-type language and very sarcastic. It seems like it is part of being a newspaper person, whether right or wrong. I know when I was in the newsroom for several years, the amount of profanity that came out of people’s mouths made me cringe, and I’m not one to hide from a curse word or three.
So, it’s not shocking to see somebody maybe make a comment or something based on a quote … or to change around a quote – when talking to colleagues.
But to put them in print? Come on. A couple of people on the copy desk at a Kentucky newspaper apparently felt that was the way to go.
This is what appeared in the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise:
Hardin County Sheriff John Ward said those who go into the law enforcement profession typically do it because they have a desire to shoot minorities.
What the Sheriff really said was…
… because they have a desire to serve the community.
The Sheriff responded to this on the department’s Facebook, making sure he told what was really said. The paper, according to the Romenesko Report, retracted the statement. At first, the newspaper apparently called it a typographical error (that’s quite a typo!), but then called it a production error.
So what happened?
In an apology written by the newspaper’s editor, it was noted the reporter had nothing to do with this error. As for proofing, it’s hard to do so when the copy desk apparently adds the error. Two people were fired because of this.
It’s hard to fathom, in this day and age, being willing to be fired from a job for being so stupid. And the question is, how hard does this follow you through your chosen career? If I’m in a position of hiring and I get a resume from either of these two, I don’t even consider it. Newspapers are under enough fire as it is. To do something like this is a fully unforgivable action.
Cuss words are out!
While seeing this Kentucky paper thing, I noticed something else on the Romenesko Report, which made me laugh.
Apparently, there is to be no cursing in a Pennsylvania newsroom. While I would have welcomed this when I was working in the newspaper world, I am wondering how all of this is enforced. It is part of the business, it seems.
So the publisher of the York Daily Record sent a memo to her staff. Basically, she said she heard some conversations recently … and well, cursing isn’t appropriate. Not in the office and not anywhere else, when on company time.
I know that newspapers have had a salty history and culture. And I know that we all will slip from time to time. Still, I believe we can express ourselves adequately without the use of profanity.
I’m up for the cleaning of a workplace with profanity… but this seems like it would be counterproductive, at least in most newsrooms I was ever in.
OK, now this is just too funny.
Turns out somebody in politics thought they could block a newspaper from using his name — just by saying that they needed permission to do so.
Look, if you are in the public eye and are an elected official, you are now open game when it comes to stories/editorials. If you are going to withhold comment, well then it will be noted. Man up and deal with it.
It seems Kirby Delauter took to social media and stated he’d sue the newspaper The Frederick News-Post if his name or any reference was used without his permission, according to the paper.
Yes, he went there.
Ignore the fact that he’s an elected councilman. This all apparently came from an article published in early January. So he took to social media and said in a post:
So let me be clear…………do not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in an unauthorized form in the future.
Reminds me of the one scene in the Sandlot – FOREVVVVER.
He continued, according to the paper.
Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an Attorney. Your rights stop where mine start.
This is hilarious. You can’t make this stuff up.
But there’s something that makes it better – the newspaper’s response. They started by calling to gather comment for the story – and noted he didn’t respond to those calls.
The crazy part is one other elected official actually backed this guy… nuts!
I can’t do any justice to how the newspaper actually responded, so I am going to just link it here and say this – take a few minutes out of your day and go read this editorial. It’s honestly brilliant. And if you’ve ever worked in or know anybody who has ever worked in newspapers, you’ll laugh even harder. This is one of the best editorials I’ve ever read, and still hammers home an important point.
When done, make sure you look at the story and pay close attention to the beginning letter of each paragraph. Brilliance.
In the end, the council member issued an apology to the paper. But one has to wonder … how much damage was done by this?
All of these items today just make me shake my head and wonder … really?
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!
So much of what we see and read in the media is wrong and based on manipulation of the readers nowadays. It’s about big headlines and selling papers in a dying print industry. Look at the mess Brian Williams is in now. We don’t know who or what to believe anymore.
Phil recently posted..Your fortune read with a cocktail at Employees Only in NYC!
The problem is journalism has become all about beating somebody else to a scoop. It’s not just about getting it right anymore. And sensationalism is at the top of it all.
Danielle Kempe (@DJDiG) says
Thanks for sharing.
We need to figure out a Northeast Blogger rep in person meeting or something, because I think we’d get along with our shared interests.
Before going into Nonprofit fundraising, I worked in PR for a few years. I’m President of a networking group called Boston Women Communicators.
So, I like keeping up with journalism news too & I’d read the editorial you linked to. I think the paper handled the issue extremely well and may have actually explained the ridiculousness of it all to newspaper readers who’ve never thought of it in the correct light before.
Danielle Kempe (@DJDiG) recently posted..Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Snow Angel Challenge
I had hoped to go to the NYC blogger brunch this past weekend, but it didn’t end up happening. I’m hoping to get to one sometime in the spring. I’d love to meet some fellow bloggers!
Being on both sides of the sword … first in newspapers, then in PR … it’s amazing how far apart things can be, even though they are trying to get it all out there. Some newspapers still get it, but many don’t, unfortunately. This is one that I thought got it.