Reducing staff: apparently a necessary evil

Not long ago, my hometown daily newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, laid off six staffers. And now it’s looking for a sports editor. AND. Not too long ago, maybe six months ago, two of the local TV stations joined forces, so we see the same anchors and reporters on both stations.

I know the economy is forcing the journalism industry to change, but I can’t understand how anyone in the industry can be comfortable with the fact that newspaper and broadcast staffs are slowly, but surely being reduced. This tweet says it best:

A recent New York Times article shows that what is happening in STL isn’t unique. There’s a problem in the media industry, and I feel like it’s got a chokehold on the business. I can’t see any argument where eliminating good reporters, photographers, anchors, etc. will help the industry. Doing so reduces competition. And when there’s no competition, people get lazy. It doesn’t have to be ruthless, cutthroat competition, but rather healthy competition.

There’s something about the rush of deadline and a sweet satisfaction that comes with getting the news online or in print first. It helps keep the passion and fire alive. Without competition — even within the same newsroom — I fear that that “fire in the belly” aspect of journalism will slowly disappear, and the quality of news will go on a slow decline.

I don’t want that to happen. But unless someone can find a way to stop it, I’m not sure that we have a choice. But I’d love to be proven wrong.

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