Today I did a short phone interview with journalism students from East Tennessee State University. They wanted to know why I started this Facebook Cause and if I was surprised by the number of members we had.
When I posted my first group announcement back in November, we were at 12,526 member members. As I write this, we've just broken 53,000. For the 40,000+ who've joined the cause since then, I'll just quickly reiterate what I told the students this morning.
I began this cause when my husband and several other journalists and staffers were laid off from our local paper. I wanted to do something to show my support for them and the industry they love. I never expected to get such an overwhelming response.
After my phone interview this morning, I told an acquaintance about it. Her response was (and I'm paraphrasing here): You mean they still have people who want to sign up to take journalism classes? Will there be any jobs for them when they graduate?
I hope that there are. I hope that this group can in some way help keep the industry alive.
We need new ideas and new ways to reach readers. Newspapers need to grow readership, not just circulation, and need to get advertisers to pay for ads based on the number of people reached, and not just how many copies of newspapers are sold.
We need to embrace the internet and new media. I believe that newspapers need to stop cutting the people that actually write their content which is what makes them so valuable. I don't know what the answer is, but cutting word counts and losing reporters just makes smaller newspapers lose the thing that sets them apart from the big news outlets and television stations -- the in-depth community reporting that connects local people to local stories. Anyone can go online to Google news or CNN and get national news for free. If regional newspapers keep failing, who will write stories about city government or horse rescue charities? Or cover the community theater just down the street?
I hope that we as a group can use this cause to keep an open dialogue between colleagues. Please use the forums. Exchange ideas. Brainstorm. Tell us what your paper is doing. What's working, and what isn't.
Sign up issues:
In December and right after the new year I had several people message me because they were unable to sign up for this Cause due to technical issues. I think the problems have been addressed, but if you have any friends who are still experiencing trouble joining Don't Let Newspapers Die, please send me a message so I can contact the Cause support team.
Discussion Thread: Bloggers
On January 1, my husband, Jeremy D. Bonfiglio, started a blog, http://www.mytvhatesme.com to continue covering the television industry (he remains a member of the Television Critics Association) while he searches for a new job and possibly a new career path. It occurs to me that due to the layoffs, there might be several others out there in a similar situation.
I've started a discussion thread where we can list our blogs. Whether it's a personal site, or one for your paper, I encourage you all to list your own news blogs. There are 50,000 of us in this group. We should be supporting our online content as well as our print content.
Lastly, I wanted to remind people that t-shirts I designed for journalists are available at:
Thanks, and please keep posting your articles, thoughts and sharing your support. This group is full of amazing people, and I hope that we can make a real difference in people's lives.
Karyn Lewis Bonfiglio