From the front lines of the publishing industry

I got this email from a friend of mine who works in the newspaper business.  It’s tough times for those folk and it’s only going to get worse. I thought his email was a good look at what’s actually happening.  Here it is:

I can now check off “fired” from my bucket list. That’s right, after four years as a features reporter at the New York Daily News, I have been canned. No surprise. It was a long time in the making. Five months, to be exact. But the swiftness and finality of the act still threw me for a loop.The day after my arch-nemesis – a fashion editor whose idea of a good article is “50 purses under $50” – became my fifth managing editor, she called me into a side office and told me, “This isn’t working out. We’re terminating your employment here effective immediately.”

I wanted to tell her she was an awful manager, a poor editor and a vile individual. But all I said was, “OK,” before my buddy, the janitor, apologetically led me out of the building and left me standing on Sixth Ave. No exit interview. No parting gift. Not even a shot of whiskey.

I couldn’t help but try to do the math. 723 articles, 63 celebrity interviews, 106 Best of New York columns, three editor-in-chiefs, five managing editors and countless sleepless nights added up to nothing more than standing on Avenue of the Americas with a handful of crumpled papers, two half-filled legal pads and a cup of cold coffee.

So I started walking. I guess I was looking for a bar, but before I could find one (it’s tougher than you think to find a good bar in midtown) I walked pastValducci’s Pizza Truck on 51st and 5th Ave. And right there on the side of the truck was a huge, laminated copy of an article I wrote that named Valducci’s as one of the best Sicilian slices in New York.

The math suddenly became much clearer. My articles weren’t about lifting my spirits, but those of the people I wrote about. Sure, my articles were no longer valued by my editor at the newspaper, who didn’t care about a pizza pies unless Lindsay Lohan threw them up, but it certainly meant a lot to small business owners like the Vallerio family of Staten Island, who have been slinging pies since 1999. I didn’t let down the newspaper. The newspaper let down the readers. Honestly, would you rather discover the best place in NYC to find a Sicilian slice or read about how Britney Spears forgot to wear underwear and showed the world her Sicilian slice?

Anyway, I think the lesson here is that sometimes you go looking for a drink but instead find some perspective. I’ll be okay. The newspaper, well, that’s a different story. In the meantime, if you hear of a gig for a decent writer, shoot me a line.

The good news is that companies are hiring up ex-journalists like hot cakes to help run their content marketing departments so folks like this won’t be on the street for long. 

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3 thoughts on “From the front lines of the publishing industry
  1. One note that @ianhenrys and i were talking about today is that basically every newspaper that is owned by a company that  doesn’t have a cable channel will go down.  You need the cable channel to support it.

  2. I think the writer nailed it.  The newspapers are letting readers down in the articles they are selling in their newspapers. It’s all about content. Life is about trade offs and the newspapers sided with the wrong content.

  3. @maryplew2 I don’t think it’s entirely their fault.  The problem is that all the items they want to report on – sports, national news, etc. – is a commodity. People can get that in a million places and they can get it for free. They have no options.  They are doomed and this is just a glimpse into that failure.

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