“Mr. Weaver, if you were 30 or 35 years old, would you keep working for a newspaper company?”
That question at lunch in Fort Worth last week nicely framed everything I’d been talking about during two days at the Star-Telegram. Given all the uncertainty in our business – the hiring freezes, the layoffs elsewhere, McClatchy’s sale of the Star Tribune – how can anybody feel good about our profession?
I struggle with those questions myself. Though I’m at a different stage of my career, I still wonder now and then why it’s worth getting up and going into the office to fight through another round of unpleasant troubles. Most of my 40 years in newspapers have been richly rewarding (hey, I started in high school, okay?) but none of those years were anything like the last one.
Well, so what? My answer is still unequivocal and clear: yes, I’d absolutely stay – and for the same reasons that I did in the first place.
I simply ask whether what I’m doing is still mission-driven: does it help hold the government accountable, speak truth to power, build community cohesion? Can I still feel at the end of the day (and the end of a career) that what I did was worthwhile, and that it made some difference?
I said here last November that “it looks like we are going to be the generation called on to save American journalism.” It sounded kind of over-heated when I wrote it, but I’m more certain all the time that it’s true.
I’m working on a longer post that builds on recent discussions about these questions in Modesto, Sacramento, Tacoma and Fort Worth. But I can pass along the conclusion right now: stay and fight, because it’s worth it.