GateHouse’s publisher comes to visit: The aftermath

Editor’s note: I want it to be clear that I am not trash talking GateHouse Media in this blog post. I am simply writing about how I perceive the company’s current situation and how it feels to be an employee during this time period. I am sure employees of many other local papers feel similar to myself. Ask The Recruiter frequently answers people asking if they should still stay in journalism.

In the aftermath of the meetings with GateHouse Media publisher Kirk Davis, many of the reporters I work with and I seem to share a lack of morale.

Many people are wondering if they should even stay at the company/in journalism. I can’t blame them. While many of the reporters are young, some have families and mortgages. If you have bills to pay and a family to support, it makes sense to try and get another job, perhaps one that is more stable. But in today’s economy, where Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy and Bank of America buys Merrill Lynch, what is stable?

Back to switching careers. Journalism is awesome. Everyone I work with loves reporting, writing, editing, etc. But where can a young journalist move up to? In Boston, the goal is to get to the Boston Globe or the Herald. Both, however, are having hiring freezes. And GateHouse owns practically all the other publications. It feels almost suffocating. Forget about going to another daily market. Unless middle of nowhere, Iowa appeals to you.

I know other reporters are taking classes to possibly go to grad school or go into another field. It’s interesting/sad/odd how we don’t even discuss the idea of being a reporter somewhere else. We all got the message from Davis’ slide show: All newspapers are seemingly circling the drain doing poorly right now.

A staff meeting we had Friday to discuss the meeting didn’t clarify matters either. While one person claims he would do this job for free, I think he’s in the minority. Yet no one wants to leave because 1) they won’t have a source of income and 2) if they leave, they are seriously screwing their individual paper over. There is no one to replace them. The company is in a hiring freeze.

Well, things could be worse. I for one do like my job and feel confident I will still have it in six months. (Unless something really drastic happens). I truly believe the communities we serve would miss us if we were gone. True, sometimes it feels as if no one reads the Web site or the blog I religiously update. But when someone meets me and says they liked an article I wrote, all the other issues and problems fade away.

1 Comment

Filed under GateHouse related, Newspapers in general

One response to “GateHouse’s publisher comes to visit: The aftermath

  1. Anne

    I read your first installment and only heard the dismayed sigh with not one hint of bashing. This is true of the above segment as well.

    In a world where you find the majority only “in it for themselves,” I do believe newspapers attract some of the most loyal, dedicated individuals on the street level–reporters, ad reps, production–the ones responsible for creating the paper. Many of us care passionately about what we do, because we believe in it. Once those emotions are engaged, it’s difficult to watch what you love dying a slow (or rapid in some cases) death all around you.

    I’ve driven around my small town many times in the last few months trying on other jobs in my head as I passed my clients’ businesses—people I know well and those whom I serve five days a week—and know I can’t leave them, let them down, or become their employee and let someone else finish what I’ve started.

    That thing you feel when someone praises your work is satisfaction in a job well done. I feel the same way when I dream up a unique ad campaign or come up with a concept so well-suited to my client that their eyes widen when they see the proof. A few times, new businesses have taken my concept and made it their brand. Then, I see my work on their signs, business cards, t-shirts & hats as well as in their ads.

    The money is nice, but for me, it’s always been a side effect. I am successful because I care about my client’s business and use every particle of wit available to me to turn out the best product I can and my folks know it.

    I suspect your folks know it, too—the ones reading your stuff.

    You are not alone.

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