The private equity firm that bought the Denver Post about five years ago has chipped away at the size of the newsroom staff in order to secure larger profits. The paper's editors and reporters recently wrote an editorial critical of what's happening and they used a photo to demonstrate the damage done.
Shop Talk panelist Will Buss called it a telling photo that shows how many journalists have retired, been let go, or otherwise left the paper in the last five years. He said corporations are slashing and burning their newsrooms while upper management reaps the profits.
Buss acknowledged newspapers are not as profitable as they once were but he feels owners should be reinvesting more money into the product.
Panelist Jasmine Crighton said the problem is not exclusive to newspapers – it’s happening in broadcasting too. She said many television stations are getting rid videographers who shoot the video and serve as an extra set of eyes in the field. Instead, reporters must do everything and, in some cases, their job title has been renamed Multi-Media Journalist, or MMJ. The title might sound fancy but it means reporters are doing the work of more than one person while management sits back and rakes in more cash.
Crighton said she doesn’t have a problem with corporations making money but she’s worried about the long-term cost to journalism and democracy.
Panelist Rich Egger said journalists are expected to meet more deadlines thanks to the web and added newscasts, yet there are fewer journalists to go around. He said some reporters resort to writing stories that can be turned around in a hurry and they spend little time – if any – digging into investigative and enterprise stories that truly serve communities.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.