Well, it’s official. I was laid off last Friday, asked to stay through Wednesday, and hired Thursday. We move down to the Post-Dispatch building in downtown St. Louis in two weeks. “We” being my whole group less three. The CFO, and two clerks were let go. One of the clerks I hired six years ago; the only other guy in the department. I’ll miss him. He never believed me that I hired him because he faxed from a submarine. During his interview, I asked what he did in the office on the submarine and he just kept saying, “you know, filing, faxing, regular office stuff.” Then I’d say, “Yeah…but, from a submarine!” So, I hired him.
My job is a strange hybrid of complexity and dullness. Multiple relational databases that I’m paid to simply understand, but in the final analysis, it’s just counting how many papers went out and how many came back. And now, mix that with the uncertainty of the newspaper business being in a severe, some say deathly, down turn. I’m along for the ride. What else do I have to do? as they say.
Are newspapers going away? I don’t know. Did trains “go away?” Did radio go away? Industries have to evolve to survive. When industry leaders care more about their profit than their mission, then they will cease making profit. Identifying that mission can be a challenge to a multi-generational industry. You hear it, but you don’t believe it.
There is certainly no shortage of news these days. It’s just that the newspapers can’t compete. Their biggest problem? They’re too costly to produce. Our metro daily wholesales for sixty-nine cents and thirty-two cents of that is just newsprint. Throw in the twenty-three cents to delivery it…well, you can add. It’s no wonder that some papers are choosing to cease printing one or more days of the week. The return is just not worth it.