" ... in most newspapers, the mood is like death. [And] a place where people are worried about losing their jobs during the worst recession in 70 years with little hope of working again in their chosen profession is probably not the best environment in which to encourage risk-taking and innovation."
The emphasis is mine, although the sentiment comes from Judy Sims, former vice president of digital media for the Toronto Star Media Group, owner of Canada's largest daily newspaper and thestar.com online.
Like me, Sims lost a career in journalism to a layoff in July. She describes herself now as "an independent online media consultant while waiting for the right permanent position." Sounds optimistic enough.
Her blog dates to the spring, when she says she decided "to finally become a part of the conversation" about old and new media, then picked up momentum when she didn't have to worry about a day job.
She's thinking hard about Journalism 2.0 on the site: "Top 10 Lies Newspaper Execs are Telling Themselves"; "Dear Editors and Publishers: Please start a blog, open a Facebook account and start Tweeting"; "A Tale of Two Strategies -- AOL vs. Newspapers."
It's from the latter that "the mood is like death" observation comes. She fancies how AOL has bulked up staffing in preparation for its disentanglement from Time Warner to stand on its own as a news and information site rich in content. Newspapers, though, have taken what Sims sees as ill-conceived forays -- talking about erecting paywalls for content, e.g. -- led by factions loyal to print.
She has other pearls for folks like me, too: fewer paid journalists in the 2.0 world.
"To survive, news organizations will have to focus on what they can do better than anyone else in the world. That’s producing high quality, original, local or national (depending on the site) news reporting and analysis," she says. "That’s a much smaller content pie, and it will mean fewer journalists."