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The ever-shrinking newsroom: is journalism doomed?


According to a survey by the American Society of News Editors, the staff size of newsrooms in the U.S. has fallen from 55,000 in 2007 to a mere 32,900 last year. As noted by Mike Rosenberg, formerly of the San Jose Mercury News and now a freelancer in Seattle, that is a drop of about 40 percent. Nobody knows where it will stop. But the havoc wreaked by the transformation of the newspaper industry makes itself felt in ways that may not be visible right away. It leads to concentration by large corporations, which is more acutely felt in Canada than in the U.S. But there are other ills that may escape the non-specialist. Shrinking staff and smaller budgets compromise coverage quality. Editing and fact-checking are sacrificed first. Journalists now wear many hats. With the growth of freelance journalism, most reporters now conceive the story, pitch it to the best bidder (if any), they edit it and off it goes. Not seldom, it goes into the page as it left the writer’s outbox. We live in complex societies that call for vigilant journalism. TV journalism and social media cannot replace the in-depth, fact-checked print journalism. The latter fosters critical thinking as only written word can.

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