More Pink Slips at the Providence Journal
Journal to Lay Off 30 From News Staff; No One Cut From Advertising
The Journal will be cutting its entire News Department part-time staff plus five full-time positions. No advertising jobs will be cut.
With one exception, the cuts will result in the least senior employee being laid off. The one exception is a reduction in the number of news online designers from three to two. All the employees in this classification are fulltime. The least senior designer will be laid off unless she qualifies for another job.
This may be the one area where my good government instincts clash with my belief in capitalism. We (all democratically based countries/societies/governments) need a healthy, inquisitive press. Period. Informing the public, asking questions, exposing government failures, over-involvements, cover-ups, ineptitudes, conflicts-of-interest. Television and radio play a vital role in a free press but as they cannot always get sufficiently in-depth, they cannot substitute for the newspaper.
Diversification of news sources resulting in a serious loss of advertising revenue has jeopardized the Providence Journal and newspapers across the US. Capitalism dictates that this is how it must be. At the same time, a free press seems a little too important to subject to the vicissitudes of the free market, not just for maintenance of some degree of honesty in our government but as the free market itself may in turn be jeopardized by the loss of a free press.
I wish fervently there were a remedy for this but don’t see one off-hand. Important as newspapers are, I don’t want them subsidized by the government. Experience has shown that the wrong kind of conditions would be placed with such funding; the last thing we need, for example, is a family member of Steve Alves covering Smith Hill.
Now, am I a fan of all of the ProJo’s reporting? No, I am not. Too often in recent years, it’s been news with a slant or some serious omissions. Or a sob story instead of both sides of the story. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy to watch it get chipped away.
So perhaps this is a double lament – on a more local level for a newspaper that doesn’t always comprehend the critically important role it plays in “simply” reporting in full and on the macro level for the slow loss of a vital player in a free press.