We sat by and watched, pretty much helpless, as one after another US newspaper folded for the last time. Journalists, editors, layout designers and others were laid off. We felt it online as more and more freelance writers competed for the available work. For a while the offshore ESL writers eroded the market with their ability to write for a buck a time but the demand for better quality content has put most of them out of business. but it hasn’t employed all the out of work American writers. Now, it looks like Australia is next.
Fairfax Media are looking to move a lot of the production and editorial work offshore and centralize it in New Zealand. No doubt it is cheaper there and with modern technology there is no reason why the newspaper has to be put together where it is printed and sold or distributed. All they need in Newcastle and Wollongong (two areas affected directly and set to lose a lot of jobs) is a reporter or two. Most of those are getting replaced by online invitations to report community happenings and the rest of the ‘news’ is taken off the ‘wire’. Just as reality TV has cut thousands of acting jobs, technology has opened the way for ‘community involvement’ in the newspaper. While at first this may have seemed like a good thing, it is clear now it is basically just taking food out of the mouths of journalist’s families.
There will be more and more of this going on because of the ‘locust leadership’ mindset where the focus is on bigger dividends for investors. Of course CEOs get bigger pay packets too and the only losers are the employees and the customers. But so what if capitalism wins on the day… at least that seems to be the mindset of too many. The double edged sword of technology is cutting on the back swing here. While we all enjoy unprecedented access to an audience for our writing via the Internet, it has rung the death knell of another group, this time fellow scribes. Where will it all end? Who knows but the best advice is to accept change is inevitable and try and look ahead and get on the front face of the next big wave.