Last week a colleague and former co-worker of mine who now works for a respected weekly business publication in central Arkansas contacted me and asked if I would be willing to discuss the state of the newspaper industry -- and particularly morale among journalists -- for a story in that publication.
I responded that I would be glad to do so, and on Monday morning I had a telephone conversation with another reporter from the business publication.
The colleague who contacted me and I were co-workers at the state's major daily newspaper -- until we both lost our jobs, along with 14 other employees in a single day, in May 2009.
In those days, it's safe to say that morale at that particular newspaper was not good. I still have many friends who make their living there, and I sense that things are a bit more stable now. I'm glad for that, for them.
Of course, what has happened in Little Rock is not unusual in the newspaper industry. Across the country, newspapers have cut staff, reduced print frequency and instituted another measures designed to reduce expenses during a time when revenues can be stagnant at best.
There are many reasons for newspapers' decline, but the Internet is by far the biggest factor. Readers now can get their news from a variety of sources, often for free.
My own sense is that smaller community newspapers are not quite as vulnerable to the problems besetting the industry as their major metropolitan counterparts. Our goal at Carroll County Newspapers is to keep our publications relevant by maintaining a hyper-local focus. We realize you can get your state and world news from a variety of sources, so our intent is to focus on local news that might not be so widely available. That is not to say we're perfect or that we always accomplish that goal; we make mistakes just like any other humans.
I can tell you, however, that this is the best job I've had in a 27-year career in journalism. I live in a beautiful place. I work a schedule that many journalists can only dream about (after 25 years of working nights, holidays and weekends). I am blessed to work for a publisher who understands and appreciates what I do and an editorial staff that comes to work every day with the goal of producing outstanding publications.
As far as I'm concerned, morale in the newspaper business is just fine.
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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.