Saturday, May 07, 2005

Local Daily Echoes Battle for Future of Journalism

By Krestia Degeorge

'I go to work angry every day, and I go home angry every day.'

That's how one Democrat and Chronicle reporter --- speaking on condition of anonymity --- described what it's like working inside Rochester's largest news outlet. That might be an extreme description, but among rank and file newsroom staffers, a growing number think the paper's quality and the quality of news judgment are declining.

This takes place against the backdrop of a labor dispute in the Democrat and Chronicle. But this story isn't just about a labor dispute or some workers unhappy with their boss. It's about the state of newspapers in this nation and the future of journalism in this town.

In the United States, most dailies have been losing circulation for several years. The loss is especially acute in the younger demographics that advertisers crave. Add to that loss the sustained explosion of new media outlets competing for readers' and advertisers' attention --- cable, internet news sites, blogs --- and daily newspapers are fighting for, if not their lives, at least their existence in their present form.

It's not a fight everyone expects the dailies to win. The New York Observer's Richard Brookhiser predicts that new incarnations of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post 'will be interesting and useful, but they won't be what they were.'

'Other newspapers will dwindle to sheets of shopping coupons,' writes Brookhiser, 'with notices of weddings and school-board meetings.' Brookhiser is among the most pessimistic of the media critics, but editors aren't having a good laugh at his expense just yet, either....


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