I will always be a print girl. While I truly love digital journalism — updating websites, building up reach on social media outlets, writing blog after blog after blog — I will, unabashedly, always be a print girl deep down.
I got my start in this great industry of journalism working for an arts and entertainment weekly newspaper, and I think it’s safe to say that I have ink for blood, which makes the name of this blog not just a clever name, see?
Through good and bad, and in becoming majorly invested and passionate about the changing of the guard to digital and social media, I still love the printed page. To me, there is nothing better than smelling a newspaper or ripping open the package of hard copies of my current magazine when they arrive at our office to take a nice long, deep sniff.
“Print is dead,” my web-based designer boyfriend (aka, The Fella) has told me, repeatedly, since we began dating more than three years ago. It’s a sentiment that seems pretty well-known outside my extra-small circle of print friends, but still we hold on, tightly, to the printed page, delighting to see our sweaty grip allows the ink to bleed on our palms.
You’ll forgive me, I hope, of the dramatics and just kindly read on.
When I read in the New York Observer that The Village Voice’s editor, Will Bourne, and deputy editor, Jessica Lustig, were stepping down instead of laying off five more people from its already bare-bones editorial staff, my heart broke a little. This came on the heels of a recent study that said that a newspaper report is the “worst job” of 2013.
Even though the reasons listed are pretty dead on — journalists don’t earn half as much as, say, rocket scientists, doctors, venture capitalists or, hell, even prostitutes, the deadlines are enough to make you need Xanax, the hours are long, and the stress is pretty palpable — I disagree. While I gripe about these very issues sometimes, you just can’t replicate chasing down a source, getting a scoop, spending all day writing and then seeing your byline in print near words that you wrote.
You should know that I get giddy seeing my online byline, too. I just feel lucky to be able to write for a living.
In fact, at the bottom of the aforementioned linked article from Poynter, @justinwolfers summed it up to perfection: “Simple observation: If newspaper reporter really were the worst occupation in America, it would be easy to find a job.”
It’s true; this is one of the most cutthroat industries to break into, especially in New York. It took me more than two years — two years! — to find a job in the city. And I have nearly 10 years of experience in both print and digital journalism! Yes, it’s the city, but even in other areas I look at, including within my hometown in Northeastern Pennsylvania, it’s slim pickings.
That’s why I was so touched that Bourne and Lustig were stepping down, sacrificing themselves instead of sending five of their writers out into the proverbial cold. Too often I sat at my desk anticipating “the cardboard box” during layoffs, company changes and the like. Too often, I saw other writer friends or colleagues with pink slips, while the higher ups got higher with fatter wallets and longer titles. I’ve been on an “editorial staff” of two people, and know what it’s like to have to take on a 37th hat because of cost cutting.
No, I don’t know the specifics of Bourne and Lustig leaving the Voice, and probably never will. Maybe they got a gazillion dollar severance package, and maybe they didn’t. (They probably didn’t, knowing the newspaper world.) All I know is that I commend them for doing something so honorable, something so selfless — and sticking to their guns like that.
The Voice is an institution, a beacon of print, one that, should it go away, there would be void on thousands of New York City street corners.
I’ll end my diatribe quoting a line from an editor friend, with whom I was talking about this subject via e-mail: “If it wasn’t for newspapers, Watergate would’ve never been found out. If man walks on Mars someday, will people hang up printouts from the Huffington Post? Sad.”