The newsroom at the News & Observer is a collection of highly talented people who hold themselves to tough standards in pursuit of public service journalism. They're working as hard as anybody in the business and achieving results far better than most. For some time now, we've been asking them to do more with less: extend vigorously onto the web, embrace community participation, uphold standards, learn video ... and, oh yeah, keep putting out that award-winning newspaper.
Not to paint everybody with one brush, but they're tired and mad about it – for the very best reasons. They want to keep doing superior work and need tools and colleagues to help.
They view the industry and our economics from a different vantage point than I do; I think we're both right in some ways.
For starters, they're right about me staying at the Umstead – not because it cost $400 a night like Gearino and others implied (it didn't), but because it wasn't my best choice. They're right in reminding me that examples matter. I can't promise to sleep on Gearino's couch next trip – despite the invitation – but I'll never stay at the Umstead again. (I do hope I can get some credit, at least, for having spent only $21.31 on dinner for both editor John Drescher and me that night.)
They are also right for keeping the issue of newsroom resources squarely at the center of the agenda. If they're not passionate and activist about that, who will be? Speaking freely and forcefully about what we're doing is essential as we navigate through The Present Troubles.
I do want those folks and the other McClatchy newsrooms I visit to keep in mind that the decisions that impact them are necessarily made in a broader context than they can see. McClatchy remains a profitable and fiscally sound company, but it's experiencing unprecedented revenue declines amidst a double-barreled threat based on both cyclical (recession-driven) and structural (new internet competition) factors. We don't yet know where the bottom of that decline will be. As stewards of the company, management seeks first to ensure its stability and security and then to see that it is well positioned to emerge from this challenge in the best possible shape to pursue its mission.
On that, the Raleigh newsroom,
Nobody does more for that mission than the people in the Raleigh newsroom. I am proud to work with them, and hope I can make them proud to work with me.
Thanks to Anonymous #6 for the copyediting help.