Thursday, April 30, 2009

Goodbye, Cruel World

Folks, there's lots to catch up on. If you haven't read Orlando Sentinel Editor Charlotte Hall's goodbye letter to ASNE, here it is. My editorial observations are in (red).

Dear ASNE friends:
As I end my year as ASNE’s president, I want to thank you for your support and guidance. I have been honored to serve as your president. Along with this note, you will find my report to the ASNE board on an extraordinary year. In Marty Kaiser, ASNE will have a new president with passion and energy. I will help him in any way I can.

If I were to give the usual speech at our convention, I would talk first of the tremendous respect, admiration and affection I have for all of you. Your courage and tenacity are inspirational. The strength I draw from you has enabled me to fight for the organization whose values I cherish.
I end my ASNE year both hopeful and angry. (I'm not going to take it anymore!)

Many, in and out of our industry, are working hard to envision new models to support journalism. I cheer them on. But I am angry at the pundits who would dance on newspapers’ graves. (The biggest grave dancer is Tribune owner Sam Zell. Unfortunate choice of words.) Their anti-newspaper vitriol disrespects the work being done by journalists in newsrooms all over America. (What bigger disrespect than being shown the door? Crocodile tears. )

These pundits take delight in telling us we are failures. Yet truth be told, the vast majority of local public interest journalism--the watchdog stories, the investigations, the coverage of city hall and the school board, the stories with impact on public policy--is still being done in newspaper newsrooms. (No argument there.) And that is why thoughtful people are frightened (a bit of hyperbole) about the perilous state of newspapers. They know that the loss of every journalist is a loss for democracy. (Then why is the newspaper industry laying them off in droves? Does that mean newspapers are anti-democracy?) And that is why we must fight on.

Hope has been hard to come by lately, no doubt about it. We have had to say farewell to storied newspapers and talented journalists. And yet I see hope popping up like the brave flowers of spring that rise from frigid ground. (Poetic.) I see it in our huge and growing audience--our Web audience is up more than 10 percent in a year, Nielsen reported last week. (Thanks to Casey Anthony.) I see it in the digital skills of our staffs. I see it in the transformation of our newsrooms to digital information centers that also produce a print newspaper. (Digital information centers? Hmm, not sure I know what that means. What's wrong with digital news centers?) I see it in our ability to engage people through social media. I see it in creation of online communities hosted by our newsrooms. I see it in the redesign of our print papers. (Okay, so the redesign didn't help much.) I see it in the undiminished commitment to public service journalism. (I'd say that's a flame that has turned into a flicker.)

At this point, I feel like giving the Winston Churchill finale about fighting on the beaches and never giving up. (With all the dead soldiers lying around you on Normandy Beach. How depressing.) But you are already doing that. You are battling on every front, not for yourself and not for your company, but for the journalists you lead and the communities you serve. (But for the corporate owners who pull our strings.)

Journalism is being reborn. How painful! How exciting! None of us knows what it will look like in three, four, five, years. (Nope.) But we do know it will be alive and kicking because we will not, and cannot, fail. (Onward, news soldiers.)

Thank you for your friendship. You are the unsung heroes of journalism. (Firing people is hard work.) Lead on.

Best wishes,



Anonymous said...

an embarrassment to the industry and to ASNE. why can't she just quit already and stop trying to defend the newsrooms of 1987, where her mindset is?
the OS has walked decades worth of experience to the door and replaced them with kid hires and interns so clueless they make massive errors.
the paper is imploding and we just watch.
stop your subscription. help put them out of their misery.
C. Hall - goodbye.

Anonymous said...

Goodbye and good riddance. She's just now caught on to the new ways of digital media by logging on to Facebook for the first time back in January. What sort of visionary arrives to the party this late? She'll soon learn that her years of expertise will be just as unceremoniously dumped like the rest of the people she's walked out the door. More shenanigans of what's happening to the Sentinel have surfaced at‘manufacturing’

Anonymous said...

I honestly doubt there is much "years of experience'
behind Ms. Hall. In NY she was not considered one of the top jounalist even in her productive years.
She was "awarded" the OS after getting passed over for a coveted position at her first choice in NY.
She arrived in Orlando with a banner that said she "valued diversity"! No so, it was not long before she began to verbally stomp her way through this value and anger the Hispanic community.
She took the heart of a once good newspaper and
eviscerated it to feed her over-inflated ego.
To this day I can never understand how ASNE mader her president?