Grabbing fate by the horns

UPDATE: The line “I’m sick of all the whining” was not referring to anyone at the Trib. I realize these people are losing their jobs, and I’m not trivializing that. I realize these people have mouths to feed and mortgages to pay. Being the oldest of four children, I understand how tight money is. I was referring to the overall sentiment that’s out there (be it in the blogosphere, J-schools, etc.) of people who want the news industry to find a solution, but don’t seem to want to use the Internet to fix it, which is just silly.

I wasn’t going to blog about this, but I guess since it’s already out there, I can talk about my reaction to the huge staffwide meeting at the News Center today.

Today, everyone in the newsroom gathered in a huge conference room where they told us they would lay off about 20 more people (11 tomorrow, effective immediately) and start reorganizing the newsroom based on the layout featured on Mindy McAdams’s blog.

Being an intern and standing in the back of the conference room while this meeting was going on, I was just blown away.

At first I was shocked at hearing about the layoffs… I thought to myself that in that room of 100 people or so, there were about 20 people who would have their jobs ripped from them. What would they do? Where would they go? I almost felt guilty being an intern; I have one of the safest jobs in the newsroom.

When I heard about the reorganization, I was hesitant at first, but I’ve had some time to think it over.

I want to say I admire the leaders at the Trib for taking control. As the newsroom to first spearhead the convergence movement, it only makes sense they would pioneer a new flow chart for reporting.

And frankly, I’m kind of sick of all the whining. A lot of journalists have been sitting around lamenting their losses instead of thinking up ways to fix their situation.

I understand that being innovative and adventurous is a scary and vulnerable move because no one really knows what the best way to deal with this, but what are the options? We can’t just let our industry crumble to pieces while we get booted from our jobs and move into cardboard boxes.

When I returned from the meeting, a few people made jokes about me changing my major. I don’t like these jokes, but typically, I casually laugh them off. Today I said, “Oh, it’s staying. I’m not dedicated to the medium so much as I’m dedicated to reporting news. I don’t care about the medium. I care about informing the people.”

That put an end to it.

The way I see it, nothing will change unless we force it to. Together as an industry, we need to grab fate by the horns and wrestle it into the direction we want it to take. We can’t be bullied out of our profession.

That’s what the Trib is doing. They know they don’t have all the kinks worked out and that they’ll make some mistakes, but the fact that they’re trying something this radical only shows us how determined they are to stay alive. And those are the people who will make it.

To be continued…

11 Responses to Grabbing fate by the horns

  1. tommyduncn says:

    The layoffs are terrible, and shocking news… You have a great optimistic attitude which should only help the journalism profession.

    And Democracy needs you to succeed.

  2. […] trabajadores de Media General están en shock, aunque algunos han aplaudido en su blog la valentía de la empresa para explorar nuevas posibilidades en estos […]

  3. […] 02Jul08 I have a friend who is currently interning at The Tampa Tribune, and she recently blogged about the restructuring taking place there. They are making some big (and kinda exciting) […]

  4. Elaine Silvestrini says:

    Jessica, I also applaud your optimism. We do need fresh perspectives and new ideas and enthusiasm if we are to have a prayer of succeeding in this business. But there is one thing you need to learn if you are to have a chance. That thing is empathy. You need to understand the impact your words and actions have around you. Any good journalist knows enough to be sensitive to those who are having a tough time. We deal with people all the time who are at a low point in their lives. And we know to be judicious in our dealings with people or they won’t want to talk to us. We also know that when we are callous, it reflects poorly on our whole profession. Publicly castigating people in the throes of a terrible experience for “whining” is not becoming to you. It is not very classy and it does not reflect well on you. Do you understand that these people who are “whining” have dedicated their lives to journalism? Do you understand that they know nothing else? Do you understand that they’re worried how they will feed their families and pay for their homes and survive if that is taken away? Try to imagine if your parents couldn’t pay for your education or your food or your clothes because they lost their jobs and had nowhere else to go. Imagine if someone accused them of whining as they tried to figure out how to cope. It’s great that Janet is a hero of yours. You should also listen to that hero when she says what we are going through “sucks.”
    We all know we have to adapt. We all want to adapt. We all want to survive. But give us this time to grieve as the bodies hit the pavement around us and we worry that we are next. And try to learn from this experience. You owe some people a very public and very profuse apology.

  5. Wenalway says:

    She understands none of that. All she understands is what people have encouraged her to believe: She’s a twentysomething who’s going to “save” journalism, and everyone else just doesn’t get it.

    She’s far from alone in this attitude, and there’s plenty of blame for it to go around.

  6. […] print? The Tampa Tribune is apparently making some bold moves according to Jessie DaSilva’s blog (another J-school friend and current intern at the Tribune – read her post). However, some […]

  7. Kat says:

    The thing you don’t understand about all the “whiners” who are, according to you, doing nothing to come up with a solution, is that they do try, but they go unheard. The street-level journalists have lots of ideas, but it’s the corporate execs that make the decisions. Since you seem to think all the reporters just need to put their heads together and brainstorm a solution, why don’t you do it? Get together with some coworkers, come up with an idea, pitch it to the execs and convince them to put your industry-saving ideas into action. Really. Go for it. See how well that works out for you. See if they care what the front line workers have to say.

  8. Rob says:

    Amen, Kat. You’re right. I’ve seen young journalists with great ideas – with clear, logical understanding of the Web and how newspapers need to use it – listened to, patted on the head and ignored.

  9. Tai says:

    And frankly, I’m kind of sick of all the whining. A lot of journalists have been sitting around lamenting their losses instead of thinking up ways to fix their situation.

    I’ve been sitting in newsrooms ever since I graduated college three years ago, and I’ve had more conversations than I can count about how we can improve our newspaper. Even though our bosses listen to us, they are constrained by what changes our publisher is willing to make and what changes our readership will accept. It seems that easy, but corporations bog down change.

    I’m not discounting your opinions because of your involvement with the Trib. However, although you are astute about some of the realities of the newspaper situation, I gather from reading some of your earlier posts that you haven’t had the full experience yet. You, like so many of my peers, are still learning about online journalism. You still wish you didn’t have to write stories you didn’t like. Once you get a job in newspaper journalism, you will find yourself writing stories you don’t want to write for years. You still will have to pay your dues at your first, second and maybe third job. The key is to find something you do want to write and pitch it well enough to your editor so he lets go forward with the idea.

    I hope you pay close attention to what goes on at the Trib, and I hope you stick with journalism. But:

    They’re keeping me busy here in Tampa. I feel like I’m working hard from start to finish (9 a.m. – 7 p.m.). For most people, I think they find this brand of busy tiring and depressing. For me, it’s invigorating.

    Allowing journalism to consume more hours of your life will lead to nothing but unpaid overtime. You won’t necessarily win usable bonus points with your editors. Trust me.

  10. B says:

    Bashing twenty-somethings for their optimism is just silly. (And I’m about to become a forty-something, lest some jaded old soul leap on me for that.)

    They’re not the enemy and, frankly, bringing new eyes, and being the first generation to come to adulthood after the dawn of the World Wide Web, they are bringing in insights worth listening to.

    And the enemy isn’t older journalists who, frankly, just want the industry’s non-stop panic attack to quiet down so that they can get back to work.

    The enemy is management that refuses to change in any meaningful way. Our newspaper is just about to go to the new slimmer dimensions taken on by papers before us, go to “layered” shorter content and get a spiffy new graphical update. But nothing important — ad reps who refuse to make calls to multiple smaller clients to make up for lost big clients and a newsroom that has major personnel issues and has for years — has changed. The publisher knows about the issues. He openly talks about the issues. But he’s changing everything but where the problems are and is expecting the problems to be solved.

    Twentysomethings aren’t killing the industry.

    Older journalists aren’t killing the industry.

    The Internet isn’t even killing the industry.

    Newspaper management is killing the industry. True fact: Ad revenue has been down since the late 1980s, years before the World Wide Web debuted.

  11. […] thinking the very same words written by this one intern from the Tampa Tribune. Here’s ‘Grabbing fate by the horns’ from Jessica DaSilva’s blog. Here’s the issue. Journalism is suffering. This is no […]

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