The dying newspaper....and icki!

Dateline: Wed 21 May 2008

Anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom has seen it: the papers, files, Rolodexes and just plain junk piled up on the desks of reporters, most of whom are, by nature, pure pack rats.

But with layoffs and buyouts taking place at major dailies around the nation, the piles of drift take on on a new ghostly meaning. The newsroom is dying: the old morgue really is a morgue. This effect is documented in Mother Jones magazine, which is running a photo essay by Martin Gee of the San Jose Mercury News. Here is the pitch from the magazine:

"The San Jose Mercury News, like many of its beleaguered competitors in the newspaper industry, has lost a quarter of its newsroom staff since the dotcom champagne bubble burst. In the wake of the exodus, debris shoals of outdated monitors, discarded Rolodexes, and broken headsets litter the empty cubicles. 'This place feels like a morgue," writes San Jose Mercury News designer Martin Gee.'"

Since one picture truly is worth a thousand words, you simply must see it for yourself:

One bright shining note: the MJ story byline bears three names. One is Mark Murrmann.

Mark, if you have forgotten, is the beloved icki of icki's world in the old Sunrise days at the Star. icki was a high school student at Broad Ripple and a creator of zines; I was lucky enough to interview him for a story once upon a time in the 1990s. He was such an impressive kid -- tattoos and all covering his legs and arms, shaky hands from all that caffeine and energy -- that then editors Ted Daniels and Dennis Royalty agreed to hire him as a Saturday columnist for Sunrise.

What a treat that was. icki, as he called himself then, and no doubt still does, wrote about what it was like to get his tongue pierced (lots of tomato soup for lunch); riding a bus across the country; and the indignities of listening to National Public Radio. ("whining and begging for money...I couldn't stand it...." or words to that effect).

After studying at Indiana University, he went to California for more education and to work for an underground magazine. He wrote an essay for NUVO about being a paid subject for National Institute of Mental Health experiments. He was --and is -- a joy.

His brother Neill Murrmann, also a good friend, recently wrote to let me know that icki was doing stuff for a Jim Beam bourbon campaign. icki was always a straight edger -- no drinking and no drugs -- so it was not a surprise to discover that the campaign is devoted to the concept of "drink smart.:

Here is the link for that:

I've emailed icki on the West Coast, so there will be more of an update to come.

Journalism: truly a small world. And while much of that world is rather sad these days, it is so heartening to know that icki -- and all the ickis out there -- are making it.


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