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Newsrooms cut by 6.4% in 2012. What would you do?

November 13, 2013

The numbers are bad. No sense in sugarcoating it.

 

The annual newsroom census of the American Society of News Editors shows that newsrooms in the U.S. have lost 2,600 people. There are roughly 38,000 full-time journalists in 1,400 newspapers, compared to 40,600 last year.

 

Photographers are the latest on the chopping block, according to the Pew Research Center. It wasn't the long ago that copy editors were the hardest hit. Reporters aren't escaping either.

 

 

 

Those are tough numbers for us journalists to face. We are crazy passionate about what we do. We'll work crappy hours for crappy pay; we love it that much. It cuts that we are rapidly running out of resources to do our jobs. But it's tough to argue against the cold reality of dwindling revenues.

 

Who would you cut? If we don't have reporters, we don't have content. If we don't have copy editors or editors, we don't have quality content our customers will value. If you don't have photographers and artists, we don't have eye-catching art and video to illustrate our stories.  There's no easy answer.

 

If we want to keep doing what we're doing, how can we increase our value to our readers and our bosses?

 

Let's rephrase that question: How are <em>you</em> increasing <em>your</em> value to readers and your bosses?

 

I try every single day to learn something new. To push a little harder. To pick up a new skill. To open a new door for an employee. To beat technology into serving us.

 

I started as a reporter in college. Switched to copy editing and design (where the jobs were at the time).  Since then, I've expanded my area of expertise to include pagination, training, management, digital journalism, blogging, web design, technology, nonprofit management, conference planning, public speaking and project management -- while deepening my journalism skills. And I'm far from done.

 

I'm lucky to work at the Daily Herald. It's not a perfect company, but everywhere I look, I see employees pushing innovation. Our photography staff does a lot more than shoot pictures here. They do video. They write stories. They collaborate on projects. They design photo packages for print. They run social media accounts.

 

Our graphic artist is not only talented in design, he's also an amazing data journalist and CAR expert.

 

Our copy editors are multiplatform editors who produce content for social media, our digital products and our print papers. They run the newsroom on election night. They write stories and take pictures.

 

Our reporters are shooting video, developing data visualization skills, and taking pictures and expanding the role of social media in journalism.

 

We're doing all we can to deliver better content to our customers. And, if it came down to it, our management team would have a tough time deciding where to cut because they would be losing multifaceted employees who can tell stories on any platform with both words and visuals.

 

I ask the question again:  How are you increasing your value to readers and <em>your</em> bosses? (Seriously, I'd love to hear.)

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