Poor Us: The Great Depression 2.0

March 30, 2009

Journalists Now Pounding Jobless Beat

Filed under: Reduced Circumstances — Tags: , , , — debacled @ 2:18 am

Starving_Artist_by_GrayDayAs a journalist who’s looking for work at a time when the newspaper business is in its death throes, I get up each day and wonder how the hell I’m going to find a job.

According to  the American Journalism Review,  about 15,000 other journalists  are asking themselves the same question.

The story offers some bad new:

“For those laid off between 1999 and 2007 who responded to the questionnaire, journalists who needed more than a year to find a job averaged 51 years old. Those who found work in less than three months averaged 46.”

And hope:

Patrick O’Driscoll and Mike Peluso took another popular escape route. They went into media relations. Both are happier men for it, and not because they’re making a pile of money. They were both better paid in their newspaper jobs….O’Driscoll says he has learned this overarching lesson: “Second and third acts can start in your mid-50s.

This story asks the question, “So what do you do now?” that should resonate with journalists or anyone who thought they’d found their life’s work, and are now finding their “Calling” has been rescinded.

Via Renegade Futurist

Is There Life After Journalism?
American Journalism Review, March/April 2009

Many of the respondents have found new jobs. It’s too early to tell about those who lost their jobs within the past year, but for those who did so between 1999 and 2007:

• Just under 36 percent said they found a new job in less than three months. Add those who say they freelance full time, and the total jumps to 53 percent.

• Less than 10 percent say it took them longer than a year.

• Only a handful – 6 percent – found other newspaper jobs. The rest are doing everything from public relations to teaching to driving a bus and clerking in a liquor store.

(more…)

March 6, 2009

The New Hoovervilles Via New Deal Journalism

Filed under: Harbinger — Tags: , , , — debacled @ 6:34 pm

Intense_by_urbanpirate33 via Diviant ArtA few months back The New York Times blog Freakonomics asked a handful of people what they would do if they lost everything.  Their glib self-assurance that they would weather adversity with gritty aplomb and “some sort of basic shelter, like a bed of sweet-smelling straw”  just might help explain how we got in this financial mess to begin with.  Just like the AIG guys who sold trillions in Credit Default Swap “insurance” fully believing they’d never have to pay a claim, the professionals polled by Freakonomics  didn’t believe circumstances would dare thwart their ever upward progress.

It makes you wonder if they’ve read the grim news of mass layoffs, mounting home foreclosures and bankruptcies happening to people who also considered themselves too clever to fail.  However, given that newspapers are going out of business faster than the banks (would if we weren’t bailing them out), journalists themselves have had to do some boot-strap pulling up in order to tell the story of the sorry state of our world.

One intrepid radio journalist, Thea Chroman, went straight to her potential audience, asking them to chip in $550 to fund her reporting on life in a  San Francisco homeless shelter and Fresno’s burgeoning shanty towns.  The result is the two part series  Homeless in California and The new Hoovervilles in California’s central valley (with photos by David Torch).

The  project was done in collaboration with and aired on KALW and Roxbury News, but they only paid for half of the story.  The rest of the funding came from donations made by members of the public who saw Chroman’s pitch on  Spot.us,  a nonprofit project described by it’s founder David Cohn as  “an open source project, to pioneer community funded reporting.”

” Through Spot.Us the public can commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. All donations are tax deductible and if a news organization buys exclusive rights to the content, your donation will be reimbursed. Otherwise, all content is made available to all through a Creative Commons license. It’s a marketplace where independent reporters, community members and news organizations can come together and collaborate.”

Will crowd-funding become the new new journalism? Right now San Franciscans are acting as Beta testers, but it’s worth checking out  for reporters and citizens alike who are concerned that there won’t be any journalism–especially of the local news–unless some new deal  is found to fund it.

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