As 2022 comes to a close, my social feeds have been heavy with news of layoffs across media and tech worlds.
It’s the loss of local news that feels most ominous. We’ll start the new year with fewer journalists in newsrooms, fewer columnists to stoke our minds, fewer visual journalists to show us new perspectives, fewer production, sales, audience and administrative pros to ensure that the news reaches subscribers and the public.
The threads that gut me most chronicle all the stories of little to great importance that journalists produced over time in service to employers and the community. There are the investigative pieces, expensive and sometimes tedious to produce; stories holding the powerful and elected to account; stories about the economy, housing, the food chain, immigration, public policy, foreign policy, crime, war, the heavy stuff.
There are endearing examples of human interest stories about the many inspiring people who contribute to our communities. There are the stories about events, art, food and local traditions that help us to feel connected to one another, to have the sense and security of a community around us.
Who will tell these stories, elevate these voices, speak these revelations when newsrooms are scuttled?
I’ve had the pleasure of another year reporting on the state of news for Editor & Publisher magazine, my 12th year with the title. It’s been a humbling, troubling, yet exhilarating year in news. Here are just a few of the stories I’ve had the privilege to tell:
I learned about anti-boycott legislation spreading through statehouses like wildfire, with repercussions to free speech and a free press. I also spoke with Mike Barnicle about the policy trend and other ways in which the 1st Amendment is under attack. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/anti-boycott-laws-run-afoul-of-the-free-press,217354
We followed the dynamics between news media and big tech, diving into the Journalism Preservation & Competition Act (JCPA), copyright issues, Section 230 (let’s not go there), and an anti-trust suit working its way through the courts. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/an-inequitable-partnership-turns-toxic,220234
We told good-news stories, like at The Oregonian. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/the-oregonian-curates-a-feel-good-news-experience,221670
E&P Publisher Mike Blinder was kind to invite me to join him on a few episodes of E&P Reports, like this spirited discussion about public notices: https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/floridas-public-notice-reversal-could-it-have-been-avoided-and-will-other-states-follow,221605?newsletter=221606
We reported on cybercrime and the specific threat to news organizations around the world. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/cyber-threats-to-media-companies-are-on-the-rise,225421
We chronicled the development of “democracy teams” around the country. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/the-washington-post-deploys-democracy-team,225938
And about how the norms, institutions and tenets of democracy are under attack: https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/american-democracy-in-crisis,239480
As a “daughter of Baltimore,” I had the distinct pleasure of telling the story of the 130-years-young The AFRO-American, and the inspiring family behind the news brand. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/news-history-130-years-in-the-making,239598?newsletter=239660
And told the story of the brand-new Baltimore Banner: https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/a-banner-year-for-baltimore,227440
I got to know some truly impressive journalists this year, including many award-winners, like Samantha Max. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/shattering-the-code-of-silence,231515
Under Robin Blinder’s direction as editor and co-publisher, we informed readers — mostly C-Suite news exes — about what journalists contend with today, including challenges related to mental health and physical safety. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/mindful-of-mental-health,233569?newsletter=233935
We told the cautionary tales about how news media publishers are imperiled, and how the public’s trust in news is fragile and fleeting. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/libel-suit-leaves-local-paper-in-crisis,237861?newsletter=238485
We reported on news outlets reporting on crises, like catastrophic Hurricane Ian. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/ian/
I wrote a cover story I didn’t want to write, shouldn’t have to write, nearly couldn’t bring myself to write, and have forever been changed by it: https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/reporting-on-school-shootings,232615
We asked tough questions of our peers, including Mike Reed, CEO of Gannett, who just directed the en-masse layoffs I mentioned at the beginning of this missive. He can expect more questions from me in the new year. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/the-good-news-and-bad-news-about-gannett,240563
I learned a lot this year from some really inspiring visionaries. I hope E&P readers did, too. Everything about news is in flux, even the profession of journalism. https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/the-objectivity-wars-wage-on,240841
My final E&P dispatch of the year is bittersweet, like the holidays or the end of a year. We wanted to tell the stories of journalists who’ve worked a newsroom, a sound booth or a TV studio on one of the major year-end holidays. We wanted to know about festivities, food (because you know that’s important to us) and newsroom traditions, but also about the memorable events reported on those holidays — a reminder that the public’s need to know never takes a holiday.
I was so grateful for all the reporters, editors, photographers, on-air hosts, everyone who shared their memories with me. Throughout those conversations ran two themes — what a privilege it is to do this job, and how so many journalists lost their jobs this year, how so many have had to (reluctantly or enthusiastically) leave the profession.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to E&P Columnist and Cartoonist Rob Tornoe, who illustrated the cover and perfectly captured the experience of chasing a lead while the newsroom is quiet and the world around you celebrates.
You can read the entire December 2022 e-edition here: https://editorandpublisher.pressreader.com/editor-publisher
My New Year’s wish is that all of these talented, smart, earnest people — indispensable members of our news family — land upright and ready to lead us toward a new trajectory. ~ G