Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Real Enemy

Well, it's nice to see people are reading, at least. And as much of a fan of lively debate as I am, I don't think that attacking the other parts of our organizations will get us anywhere. I understand everyone's frustration, whether it's at LANG, Dean Singleton, or the newspaper business as a whole, but if we're all going to get out of this, we can't waste our energy on tearing each other down.

Much of what you guys say in your posts on both sides is true-- in my time with the company, I've seen that the relationship between the various papers leaves much to be desired. We're probably all too stubborn sometimes, we all feel like we don't get enough respect or resources. And we don't. I haven't been to all the papers, but from the folks I know throughout the chain, I know that there are a lot of hard-working, talented individuals at this company. There's probably some slackers and malcontents at each, but on the whole, the people I've watched all work themselves into the ground, regardless of what sort of job they have.

Pettiness and in-fighting helped get us into this mess, so if we're going to find a way out of it, we've got to quit that nonsense and learn to work together. I'm not saying we all need to line up and march to the company tune, far from it, but we do have to support each other, both as workers and collaborators. And hey, we're grouchy journalists, so I don't expect everyone to get together, hold hands and sing folk songs, either. But the criticism going back and forth offers no solutions, just insulting rhetoric at a time when our industry is reeling and good people are losing their jobs.

As one of the earlier commentors (commenters? people who commented? commentators?) noted, the news business is changing at lightning speed. All the time and energy we put into complaining about the folks who are supposed to be on the same team distracts us from work we ought to be doing to preserve our jobs and our industry. If we see legitimate ways to improve the product or the way the company runs, then we should definitely all speak up-- that's the reason this union exists. But we've got to come up with solutions, not just complain that some other guy's messing up our way of doing things.

As the title of this post alludes to, the real enemy here isn't our company or our sister papers or the Daily News. And as much as I disagree with the Singleton strategy, we can't even totally blame that. The enemy is all the people who don't care about newspapers anymore, don't care to read them, don't care to advertise in them, don't see them as a vital part of their lives. We're not going to win them back by picking on the Daily News or the other parts of the chain-- they couldn't care less about us already and they're certainly not going to be any more interested if they see us attacking one another.

I don't have the answer on how to win back those readers-- I don't think anyone in this business does. But long after we forget about these arguments, I hope we can look back and say that we figured it out together.



Blogger mmarkup said...

Amen! Or, for the non-religious version: I absolutely and completely agree.

Speaking from the San Gabe sister papers, I can tell you that we're all in the same boat -- the LANG boat as well as the newspaper industry boat. And pointing fingers and assigning blame won't stop us from sinking. We're all trying to do more with less, share resources, and keep our heads above water. (Are you sick of the boat analogy yet?)

I've only been at this paper for a couple of years, but I've been in the newspaper business for a whole lot longer. And if there's anything I can do from here, or anything questions I can answer from this perspective, let me know.


11:26 PM  

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