On November 30, Indianapolis Star employees and friends marched in front of the newsroom building on Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis, Indiana in protest of a 44 percent reduction in staff over three years with accompanying pay cuts and furloughs for remaining employees. Their central message is that Gannett corporate executives have prospered on the cutbacks of employees and that the quality of life of the very people who produce content has been seriously diminished. Additionally, Indianapolis jobs are being moved to Kentucky.
From my perspective the quality of coverage of Indianapolis has suffered. When the number of journalists and support staff is reduced, the ability of the paper to be a watchdog on government is also reduced.
These are tough times indeed. But it seems the growing disparity between the so-called 1 percent the the other 99, which has fulminated sit-ins and protests across the country centered on Wall Street, has other legitimate targets as well.
News corporations seem not to value the very people who create the content their corporate image is based on. This seems to be inherently self-destructive. This behavior results in a cycle of declining quality, which leads to fewer customers, which leads to a dead product and business. There has to be some balance between responsibility to stockholders and to valued employees. To do otherwise is just not acceptable. In the long run, stockholders don't want a ruined business. There are other ways to achieve growth without destroying the infrastructure of your business. Newspapers are more that a building and a printing press. The most important part of news infrastructure is the people who daily create the news we depend upon to provide context to city, state and world events.
A vibrant press is so important to our functioning as a society. Without a strong and free press, our government will have little differentiation to the other trouble sports around the globe. History has shown we need to constantly monitor our government. Newspapers have been indispensable in keeping both government and business from running amok.
It seems that the balance has swung too far toward stockholders and executive pay options and away from the people who work hard to inform their community.