I’ve pondered over whether or not to write this post for a couple of months and finally decided it was an unappreciated sense of loyalty that’s kept me from so doing. So I’m posting.
Once again I feel myself let down by an organization I’ve defended stoutly for years and from a profession I obviously hold to a much higher standard than most.
I’m speaking of The Gazette.
And of journalism.
I guess I am and always will be too idealistic about what I expect from particular newspapers in specific and journalism in general.
A few basics: I was not “educated” for a journalism career but learned my profession from on-the-job training and working first for a rabble-rousing Irish editor/publisher, John McCormally, who one Saturday morning backed one of the Hawk Eye’s biggest advertisers out of his office while he bellowed loudlyand forcibly that no damn advertiser was going to tell him what he could and couldn’t print. The advertiser, in his reverse haste, tripped over an electrical recepticle and continued his frenetic retreat in a crab crawl across the floor with Mac looming over him and in so many words telling him to haul his sorry ass out the door.
Mac, by the way, won a Pulitzer for reporting on the Kansas murders that were the basis of Truman Capote’s “In Cold blood.” He was highly political, liked to rub elbows with nationally-known Democrats and fired his reporters to take on a challenge and to not be afraid but to take pride in wrestling with difficult issues.
He was an intense and colorful role model and it was great fun to cut my journalist’s teeth under his leadership.
I started out as a proofreader there, worked my way up to a feature reporter position and from there did practically every beat from lifestyle to political. No sports or business, though. Anyone out there remember proofreaders?
I eventually became City Editor.
The second editor/publisher I worked for at The Hawk Eye was Stuart Awbrey, winner of the prestigious E.B. White award and a champion of local journalism. He was wont to tell his reporters that covering the big stories was fine and wanted but to never forget the local stories ( garbage pickup will be delayed two days this week) were just as important and maybe more so to readers than revealing the identity of “Deep Throat.” He was right.
Stu once told me he believed my ethics were actually too high because I refused free membership and the food needed for a weight-loss program because I said the only way I would write the stories about my weight loss would be after I’d successfully maintained the loss for three years. They decided that would be too long to wait for the hype they were after.
Loyalty was important at that newspaper and it was pretty much a two-way street. I did eventually burn out from the long, long hours and the daily deadline stress.
I also had become disillusioned with what seemed to be a wide gap between what newspapers espoused to believe – workers’ rights and fair pay for work done, for example – and the reality reporters and editors lived under.
Took me five or six years before I could actually contemplate working in a newsroom again and when I signed on with The Gazette’s online efforts, we weren’t supposed to be in the newsroom.
So why am I disappointed by The Gazette?
It comes down to this: I began this blog on Gazette Online. I’ve written it for several years now at no cost to The Gazette and had a slowly building audience with views to the blog usually totaling 200+ a week, no wildly successful national blog but respectable, I think, for a very narrow-scoped blog.
And now that I no longer work for The Gazette – their decision not mine – I felt my blog helped represent a voice from the community and presented decent copy at no cost to their budget.
When Gazette Online was redesigned recently, Stayin’ Alive was cut from the blog list with no warning, with no “thanks we appreciated your content contribution but we’re limiting the blogs on the site.” No nothing.
Someone asked me just today if I was going to do more writing for The Gazette because he missed my reviews etc. I told him I didn’t think so. The Gazette told me at the time – about now – last year that they wanted me to provide some content for them and that they’d be contacting me. No contact followed.
Though I realize the whole industry is in flux – or maybe that should be in toilet flush – the callousness and discourtesy shown me, a former colleague, has soured me on The Gazette.
They’ll get no “community content” from me.