Schadenfreude-free zone

It's quite possible that we're about to see some more newspapers die.

I know what it's like. In my career I've been present for the deaths of several newspapers.

One was the Metro-East Journal in East St. Louis, Ill., the paper where my dad worked when I was a kid. Its sibling in Champaign-Urbana, a competitor of the paper where I worked at the time, also closed. People lost their jobs. Communities lost a voice.

The next one after that was the St. Louis Evening News, only a month old, where I was news editor. And finally the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, where I also was news editor, collapsed.

I've also been through layoffs on the dotcom side of the world, both as a witness, then later as a victim, at Cox Interactive Media.

I say this to illustrate that I'm under no illusions about the pain and suffering that people are experiencing as a result of the newspaper layoffs sweeping the country. I've seen it and I've lived it.

In many cases I may be able to legitimately point and say, "I told you so," but be clear: I take no joy from this.

I'm under no illusions about the temporary nature of all business undertakings, including the mighty local newspaper.

All things must pass. No one deserves perpetual success. It's something we have to go out and earn every day. When conditions change, we have to change. And there's no doubt that conditions are changing in a big way.


One of my old college professors worked for several newspapers that folded, including the Washington Star. He once told these stories to us in class, and I mentioned that I thought he seemed to be the common denominator in these newspapers' demises. He wasn't amused. My grandfather was a newspaperman for 40 years, working for newspapers such as the Seattle Star, the Tacoma Times and the Bremerton Searchlight (all in Washington state). He even started a daily during the Depression called the Shelton Daily Spokesmen. All of these papers are long gone. Sadly, it happens - and has for a long, long time.

Good post. I think Cassandra from Greek mythology accurately represents how it sometimes feels to be an innovator. And yes, this can and does happen to people in all industries, including dot-coms (I've also been there outside of newspapers). From the Wikipedia entry on Cassandra Complex: "Cassandra was a daughter of Priam, the King of Troy. Struck by her beauty, Apollo provided her with the gift of prophecy, but ... placed a curse ensuring that none would believe her warnings. Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions." More here: