The faces of print journalism's decline

Sep 19, 2013
The faces of print journalism's decline

Just glancing at the results of a Google search for "decline of print journalism" is disheartening.

Pulitzer-Prize winning newspapers going under. Billions of dollars in lost advertising revenue.

The recent layoffs of hundreds of employees at AOL's local news site Patch and Gannett’s confirmation of cuts to their local papers are just the latest examples to creep up in the news. All over the country, smaller newspapers are laying off journalists and newspaper management.

The figurative and literal writing has been on the wall for many years. The digital age is at its height, has no signs of slowing and many consumers are content with the change.

But what about those who actually miss the impact of print media? What you don't hear very often are the stories of the individual lives affected by these massive changes.

Journalism graduates with degrees in hand have faced hiring freezes even during economic upturns. Newsrooms are slowly being dissected and staffers are often being asked to work longer hours and take on beats they aren’t as knowledgeable about or as comfortable taking on.

Today the cuts are swift and deep.

Lisa Hornung spent nearly two decades in the paper business, but recently departed to pursue a different dream - furthering her education in history. She is chronicling her journey on her blog, "Faking It Until Making It."

She had always wanted to pursue graduate school, but she didn't want to abandon her dream job of being a journalist.

"You still believe in journalism," 42-year-old Hornung said. "You still love it."

She has worked for many different newspapers as a writer, copy editor and photographer.

"It's not the journalism you don't love. It's the atmosphere. It's the corporation that kind of knocks you down." Her impetus for leaving was a previous layoff from the same company, her fatigue from working late nights and being away from loved ones. The "assembly line" atmosphere became too much for her.

Though she is excited about grad school, like most great careers, she will miss the people she worked with.

"I absolutely loved the people there," Hornung said, who is now freelancing. "They made it fun. You could have the worst day and still be laughing with your co-workers."

Today's "news cycle" is impossible to stop: less revenue and a declining readership means newsrooms are forced to deliver a skimpier product. These slimmer papers are turning people away even more.

"There's still people out there who want their daily newspaper," Hornung said. "They get it and then it's half the size it used to be."

Hornung feels younger readers aren't picking up the paper, because they can get a deeper story (not to mention more quickly) online. In response, newspaper companies haven't respond quickly enough to the need for social media or web savvy new hires. When older readers feel shortchanged, they turn to television news.

"Newspapers are letting themselves die sooner," she said. "It's just so hard to see what you believe in go down the drain."

Where do you think print journalism is heading in the next 5 to 10 years? Share your thoughts and predictions in the comments below.

Williesha Morris has been a lover of writing since before she knew how to spell and has loved journalism since 6th grade. She is currently a freelance writer and administrative consultant in Alabama. Read more from her on My Freelance or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Photo: Newspaper via Shutterstock

About the author

Activist. Podcaster. Lover of honesty, writing and all things web related. This is my personal Twitter. Small business Tweetery - @willimorris7!

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