Tuesday, February 08, 2011
I lost my job. I didn't do anything to speed that along. I think I was actually good at my job, frankly, and I usually don't think I'm good for much. Other people seemed to think I was a good at it too. But years ago I chose to attempt to make a living in the newspaper industry, which is doing very poorly economically. I don't know whether I made good choices in life or not. It could be worse. I could've done something uninteresting for the past 12 years. At least my career in newspapers hasn't been boring.
There are some people I worked with in the past 4 years I was at this job who were very nice and paid attention to my ideas occasionally and joked around with me from time to time. I'll miss working with them. They know who they are.
I'm not going to bitch about my situation specifically. Let me bitch more generally. In recent days, Rupert Murdoch started an iPad-only newspaper/magazine/newfangled publication called The Daily. It seems like a great start on the journey away from daily printed newspapers, which are dying out with good reason. It costs just $40 a year — much less than any newspaper subscription I know of, and with much more content. It seems nice. If I had an iPad, I'd probably get it. As recently as its first day, I saw on various tech blogs how it was already being pirated for non-iPad users and subscribers. The Daily: Indexed finds The Daily's web pages, which are open and unprotected but tucked away on the web where non-subscribers should not be able to find them, and surfaces them so people without a subscription can read them. Using this seems very wrong to me. It's like taking a candy bar while the store manager isn't looking. Those pages are meant for paying customers. It irritates me that entitled fuckwits out there are mooching because they think they deserve the rewards of someone else's work. I don't care if Rupert Murdoch has a lot of money — the workaday folks who put together The Daily probably don't. And when you benefit from their work without paying for it, you're essentially stealing money that goes to supporting them and their families and belittling the necessity of their labor. People who work in journalism deserve to get paid for their labor, the same way anyone who performs beneficial labor deserves to get paid for it. If a newspaper chooses to give away its content for free to readers, that's its business. Share all you like. If it demands money in exchange for its content and you get it without paying, you're diluting the product's worth, demeaning the value of people's labor, and contributing to the brutal economic climate newspapers exist in lately which forces nice, hardworking people like me out of a job. If you're one of these people, fuck you.
Information is free. The medium by which it's delivered is not necessarily. One time about last year, I remember someone called the office and spoke to another editor about some insider stuff going on with a local town government. The editor said, "You can call them up and find out this stuff yourself. We have access to the same information you do — we're just a lot nosier about getting it." If you feel like you want in-depth analysis of what's going on with the federal budget, let's say, you have two choices: (1) be your own journalist — by all means, contact dozens of members of Congress and try to talk to them and get straight answers and ask probing questions and do extensive followup and research over past years' budgets; (2) support the professionals who are this nosy, so you can go do whatever else it is you want out of life.
As for me, I don't know what's going to happen. This layoff throws into question many, many personal plans I had for 2011 and beyond. I'm going to have to be even more of a cheap bastard than I already am. But I'm optimistic at the moment because it's only been a few days, I have a supportive and loving wife, I'm a good worker and don't like being lazy, and I have many friends who are very nice to me. I have a network. I bought a copy of the Writer's Market for the first time in several years. I'll be OK.