Jun 22, 201504:23 PMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Nothing to read here, folks. Still only $1
(page 1 of 2)
The Wisconsin State Journal, Madison’s newspaper of record, is not covering the biggest story in town. That would be, of course, the blood-letting in the State Journal’s own newsroom late last week.
Six writers given pink slips — four of them involuntarily — and a seventh reporter not being replaced. Credit to my old editor at Isthmus, Bill Lueders, for breaking the story in his old newspaper.
It’s like the empty desk in high school home room after one of your classmates proves teenagers are too immature to drive. They’re just not there any more. And no grief counselors.
Gone are columnist Doug Moe, sports writers Andy Baggot, Dennis Semrau, and Brandon Storlie, higher ed reporter Dan Simmons, and books editor Jeanne Kolker. And we’re told that investigative reporter Dee Hall is not being replaced. Total: 7.
I have a directory of State Journal staffers dated July 1996; it bears 95 names. Frank Denton was editor, Tom Still wrote blistering editorials with the help of Sunny Shubert. Joe Jackson and Roger Turner were crack photographers; Jeff Mayers covered the capitol, and Bill Wineke wrote religion. Religion! Imagine!
The newspaper’s roster I found online today lists 60 names — the seven departed have not yet been scrubbed. So make that 53 staffers today compared to 95 two decades ago. Cut almost in half. Still the largest news staff in town, still worth reading, but indisputably diminished. Wasting away in full view.
Mothers, don’t raise your children to be journalists.
This is a story being writ in city after city — only not by the newspapers themselves. Even The New York Times is hemorrhaging; the corporation is said to have a capitalization of only the value of its Manhattan real estate.
Blaska’s bottom line — The one constant is change.
Back in the day, I marveled that the international news editor could review the world’s events on his green screen, a dumb terminal attached to a mainframe. I had not the wit to imagine that everyone would someday have similar machines — only 10 times more powerful — in their homes and now, on their belts. The news business is changing. (Three networks on television?) Hell, the world is changing.
Even Mt. Everest is moving a few feet each year, in a northeast direction, propelled by continental drift. The Nepal earthquake actually jolted the mountain back a few feet.