The newspaper

Dateline: Thu 01 Dec 2011

Don't drive angry, Bill Murray tells the crazed, speeding groundhog behind the wheel in the movie "Groundhog Day."

By the same token, don't write emotional.

Can't do it.

WISH TV Channel 8's report last night about the Indianapolis Newspaper Guild's protest of Gannett made a deep impression.

To cycle another cliche, a picture is worth a 1,000 words -- and video footage is the value of a small book.

Seeing dozens of Star employees -- 100 or so -- including the greying heads of op-ed columnist Dan Carpenter, copy editor Hal Wiley and music/theater critic Jay Harvey -- outside in the cold, marching and chanting against their draconian employer, got to me.

Even more "chilling," to quote former Star movie critic Chris Lloyd, was the message delivered by Guild president Bobby King during his interview with WISH reporter Jessica Hayes.

Salaries at the Indianapolis Star have been frozen for three years, or longer, King said. Some employees are now relying on food pantries to feed themselves and their families.

The irony is that the newspaper writes about injustices and serves as the voice for people who can't speak for themselves; "now we're the ones with the boot on our necks."

In a dispassionate tone, King explained that Gannett's CEO Craig Dubow collected $9.5 million last year, When he retired, he walked off with a $35 million golden parachute.

To quote a Star columnist, this is just nuts.

Sinfully nuts.

As King said, nobody goes to work on a newspaper to get rich (although God knows, some executives and upper-management newsroom types must have that goal in their heads.)

But hard-working, deadline-driven, daily newspaper journalists do their jobs not for great salaries but out of a love of the craft, their community and, yes, an idealistic notion that truth, fairness, accuracy, research and deep thinking that manifests itself in print sometimes pays off by making a difference in the world.

This blog regularly takes jabs at the paper, but it's usually top editors or Gannett who are on the firing line. I continue to subscribe to the Star and to read it religiously every day and am grateful for every scrap of information reporters gather, every insightful observation, every correctly placed punctuation mark and every well-crafted story.

When I went to work for the state's largest paper in 1978, (Gannett bought the paper in 2000) I was so happy to be in a newsroom again that I said  I'd clean the toilets just to hang around and breathe the air.

Such loyalty to the process of news-gathering and writing, pure and simple, is what drives the majority of newspaper people I've known over a lifetime. They love what they do; they believe in their mission, in the democratic process and in something that used to be known as "the fourth estate."

Gannett, on the other hand, is a corporation that believes in nothing beyond money and knows absolutely zero about how to run newspapers; it just happens to be in the newspaper business.

For some perverse reason, Gannett seems determined to destroy the very men and women who keep their business afloat.

The conservative with whom I live says that as long as Gannett continues to pile up profits, it will continue to do exactly what it is doing: screw people over. "They're making money; why should they stop?"

They should stop because what they are doing is wrong.

The Guild has the correct message. Maybe ultimately that message will resonate in this city; maybe not. That matters, but what matters most is that the Guild is on the right side, it is fighting back with vigor and it is telling the truth.

That's what newspaper people strive to do, no matter what the circumstances.


hendy [Member] said:

Good for the Guild.

2011-12-02 07:36:51

M Theory [unverified] said:

Just a thought.

Why not publish a list of the Star's top advertisers and people who are sympathetic with the Guild can boycott those companies.

I would not know who the advertisers are because I have no desire whatsoever to read the Star because of its draconian policies and its watered down news. My impression is not that the Star looks out for me, the little guy, but that the Star looks out for the elites in this town.

2011-12-02 11:15:23

ruthholl [Member] said:

I like the idea of advertising the top advertisers. It used to be that L.S. Ayres carried the paper; a former marketing director told us to pray that Ayres never went bye-bye, because they paid all our freight. Then Ayres got bought out, and Macy's advertised for a while, then cut back. (They seem to be back, but not with as much vigor as the old days of department store rule).
Next it was the grocery stores. We all had to be thankful Don Marsh survived another day without a major alcoholic incident; Marsh too paid our bills. Maybe Kroger as well.
Now it seems like Best Buy and all those tech-related superstores...
So who is talking????

2011-12-02 12:23:09

BigPoppa [Member] said:

"They should stop because what they are doing is wrong."

Too bad most corporation don't feel that way. They'd rather step on your throat to grab another dollar.

In my hometown, a factory that employs 1000+, one of the areas top employers, locked out the union employees Monday. The same union that gave $30 million in concessions a few years ago to help the company get back to profitability, that has worked without a contract for a couple of months while trying to negotiate a new one and offered to continue to work under the old contract to keep negotiations moving forward. The company returned to profitability and is doing so well the CEO's salary doubled from $2.8 million in 2008 to $4.7 million last year. Many other executives were also rewarded for the return to profitability. The employees wanted back a little of what they gave up, but instead got locked out.

2011-12-02 14:48:12

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"My impression is not that the Star looks out for me, the little guy, but that the Star looks out for the elites in this town."

M Theory: That's my impression, too.

2011-12-02 15:52:42

Does It Matter [unverified] said:

We're still subscribing because my wife insists. If I saw light at the end of the tunnel, I'd agree with her. But whether paper or e-reader, if a "newspaper" is so preoccupied with survival that they take no risks that offend incumbent power or political correctness, then haven't they basically abandoned journalism?

2011-12-05 15:56:38

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