Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How will we fulfill the promise?

This discussion on ProPublica is well-deserved praise for Tom Lasseter and associates who produced the Guantanamo: Beyond the Law investigation, and also asks a pertinent question at the end:

McClatchy (and Knight Ridder) have a storied history of "getting the story right" -- from the administration's case for invading Iraq to the politicization at DoJ -- but this week's cutbacks dramatize the critical question facing newsrooms everywhere: how exactly can the company continue to fulfill its promise to keep up the good enterprise work?

I've written about that here, of course, and much good comment and argument ensued. We need to keep talking about how to proceed in ways that keep the mission at the center of our efforts to adapt to new realities.


  1. Anonymous12:07 PM

    Promise? Gee, until this week I thought my job was secure and believed Gary Pruitt when he said McClatchy wasn't going to follow the rest of the industry using newsroom cutbacks to improve the company's bottom line. Now I am sitting at my desk and contemplating a very fragile future of possible further layoffs, cutbacks in news operations and other "savings" so the company can pay for this reckless KR purchase. There's not much mission left to keep if we are just treated as just another replaceable widget in the great corporate machine. Until this week, I thought we were special. I let you know about what I feel about our mission after I reconcile myself to how ordinary and redundant I have become.

  2. Casey6:18 PM

    There's another thing to think about here: retention. McClatchy is full of talented people writing stories, taking pictures, laying out pages, building websites. There are a lot of people behind the scenes, too, people who could easily find work doing what they do elsewhere. If the company indeed thinks it has a future, what steps will be taken to retain some of these people for the future? Loyalty to the profession isn't going to cut it much longer if the mortgage is due, and who can blame them? I know a lot of A lot of skilled, talented people who either have been, are, or will be looking for steady employment elsewhere now.
    A brain drain will only make the death spiral spin faster.

  3. Anonymous8:24 PM

    Casey, appreciate your comment, but tenure can be paramount to output. It's likely some productive and talented journalists could get the axe if times get tougher then they are, through bad judgement/management politics. Their are varying degrees of output and relevance in newsroom personnel these days, in print and online. Talented managers have the privilege to steer in this critical time, and it's definitely important to keep the tires on the road, and accelerate your competitive values that distinguish you from YouTube. Strong leadership needs to come from the top in all of these newsrooms. Some management may not be well equipped to reengineer a modern newsroom, however.

    For the record, I do not believe reputable news sources are fading away into the obscurity of the internet age. The world needs and appreciates reputable news operations like McClatchy's, and I wish all the past and current employees a prosperous future.