Something happened today. I’m sure you’ve been reading about it all over Twitter, ChrisD and Facebook. Yes, the Winnipeg Free Press let a few writers and editors go. This shouldn’t shock any of us, the way things are going. Canada doesn’t even have a national glossy music magazine anymore (Chart ceased publication in 2009 and went online only, eventually selling its name off to an editor that would tarnish its reputation by turning it into a wire copy/YouTube video blogroll). It’s the way things are going and yes, the irony of writing this in a blog post isn’t lost on me. Educated writers that have honed their craft are in danger of losing out to anyone and everyone that can Tumble, tweet or (insert cool thing kids are doing that I’ve never heard of) and it’s scary, but it’s the reality. With all this information given away for free, people ask “why should I have to pay for YOUR opinion of the new Dinosaur Jr record?”
I was discussing this topic earlier today with the editor of our neighbour publication, Stylus, before any of this news hit the feed. That all of the writers and magazines are disappearing, but they can’t. They just can’t - because then there will be nothing left. No original voices. No opinions. As a section editor, I spend my days helping writers grow, giving input and feedback. I also write for a few other publications and work within the independent film community. None of these jobs are safe and it scares the crap out of me, but because it’s something that needs to be done, I will do it. yes, there needs to be independent, yet educated voices, but if all the legitimate news sources are gone, then who will readers trust?
I’m not the most educated on any of this, I’m not claiming to be. I won’t even read the comments you post on here because I’m not interested in getting into a debate about it. Today was my day to blog and this is a topic that hits home to me so I’m riffing on it. My thoughts are with those who lost their jobs today (two of which spoke at our staff orientation this year, which was awesome). I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of them and they’re all stand-up folks with talent to spare. Good things await them. Those of us that are lucky enough to find jobs within journalism (print, online or otherwise) know how cool it is to see our names in print next to some words we scrawled moments before deadline. We shouldn’t take this for granted, but we probably do, simply because it’s an incredibly fast-paced environment. You’re always moving forward, looking at the next week’s events, stories, deadlines. Rarely do any of us receive feedback from readers, positive or negative (though when we do it’s usually negative online comments), so we keep going. We tell people’s stories. We try to have a little fun with it for very little pay. People either assume that you get paid big bucks to write (“Like, I dunno, what do you get, a buck a word?”) or nothing at all (“Oh look, you and your friends put out a little zine, how adorable. I hear Home Depot is hiring, now that’s a career!”) I’m not complaining. I’ve written and taken photos for free, for trades and for decent money. I’m just saying we shouldn’t take it for granted, as writers, readers or subjects. If you had told me ten years ago that my eyes would be sore from reading everything online and that Spin magazine would be thinner than a member of the Strokes (hey, they were quite popular in 2002), I would have shrugged and downloaded the new Eels record from Napster without even thinking about it.
Things change. We’ll all get through this. I hope.