Posted on September 22, 2008
If not you, then who?
During the past year I’ve been in a lot of newsrooms and talked to a number of journalists, mostly working at medium-size and larger newspapers, about online. The journalists often wonder aloud whether their managers know enough about online — and note, they are talking about the ones in charge of the online.
But over the past weekend, I heard a couple of reporters say this in a more pointed manner:
“We have no leadership.”
That’s a stunning statement, in my opinion. And let me add, they were not whining. They may have sounded a bit angry, or disgusted, but not outraged. It’s mainly a statement of fact. The editors and publishers — and yes, all those folks in corporate — don’t have a clue. It’s more and more obvious.
So, Jeff Jarvis was on this same note last Wednesday:
Newspapers and newspaper companies are about to die. The last remaining puddles of auto, home, job, and retail advertising are about to be sucked down the drain thanks to the economic crisis and credit is about to be crunched into dust. So any newspaper or news company that has been teetering will fall. If Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and AIG can fall, so can a puny newspaper empire — and there’ll be no taxpayer bailout for them. When this happens, will it be Sam Zell’s fault? Hardly.
The [Los Angeles] Times veterans should not be suing Zell. They should be suing themselves. Oh, I, too, am angry at the state of newspapers in America but I’m angry at the right people. The LA Times’ problems — like those of other papers — were caused by by decades of egotistical and willfully ignorant neglect by the owners, managers — and staff — at the paper.
While this is harsh, it’s also true. I don’t mean to dump on the staff, the reporters and designers, editors and producers. The managers have made many stupid decisions, often out of pure ignorance or from fear. They have fired consultants who told them radical change was necessary and paid big bucks to other consultants who smoothly assured them that “content is king.”
But the reporters and designers, editors and producers, were there too. Just like solders in a war, or average German citizens in Nazi Germany. They were there, watching the terrible decisions being made and going right along with them.
If you have no leaders, step up!