Don’t get even; get angry

I saw this web site today posted on a friend’s Facebook: Angryjournalist.com. I appreciate the sparse minimalism of this site. It’s exactly what it says it is and nothing more.
Anonymous journalists deciding to identify and enumerate the exact catalyst for their most recent frustrations. If you couldn’t guess, a plurality of the anger is addressed at the atrophying of the newspaper industry and the awfully powerless feeling we all have of being trapped in the basement of a collapsing building. Here’s one that rings particularly true today:

Angry Journalist #846:

I’m angry because people who are three times my age and don’t know how to do much more than check their e-mail are pushing for video, which is most likely subpar. Since when are we in the broadcasting business? Readers want quality journalism, and it’s hard to dig up good stories when we’re trying to fiddle with Final Cut to boost page hits by .2 percent.

Our newsroom was marked today by what might be called the opening salvo of a boiling coup plot to take over the web site and wrest it away from the people who want to turn it into a dumping ground for extraneous video. Quite frankly it’s fascinating to watch a management full of an older generation try to break new ground with a web site without ever asking the opinions of the two-dozen tech savvy, internet-raised 20-somethings in the other room.

Here’s another:

Angry Journalist #778:

Oh boy, let me light into you old folks for a second while you wait for your buyout to materialize.

So much venom for young journalists, post after post about how stupid and coddled young reporters are.

Yeah, maybe we do need some coddling and reassurance. But maybe that’s because your complete lack of foresight has destroyed this industry to the point where every person on your staff is fresh out of j-school and is covering five different beats to begin with.

Yikes. But this gets to one of my main concerns, and perhaps an underlying theme of this blog: is there a major generational rift developing right now in journalism? On one side are the well-trained young writers, moribund to the tail end of an industry that has all but declared it will never invest in them. On the other side is the fore bearers of this problem, the ones who remember the days when newspapers had a monopoly over the information business and the desire to innovate was on par with the desire for physical labor. The thought of a shift worries me because I believe our ideals are the same. The true believers of those of us now coming up in the industry understand the need for top-quality, insightful reporting is only increasing, and that the effort that goes into reporting a newspaper still isn’t reflected in other media.

And one more:

Angry Journalist #755:

CNN has dubbed the current election cycle BALLOT BOWL. The terrorists have won.

At least it wasn’t “Ballotstock” or “Balloroo.”

So what are all of us angry journalists going to do? Watch as the building crumbles around us, or find a way to crawl out of the basement and start a new construction site next door?

Here’s a statement by the site’s founder, Kiyoshi Martinez, who according to his bio is a Web site assistant for 22nd Century Media, a group of community weekly newspapers in the south suburbs of Chicago.

I created this site for several reasons. In private conversations with friends I sensed that there is a growing angst among the upcoming crop of journalists entering the field right now. Journalism-school graduates have the odds stacked against them.

More than likely, their education was inadequate — it’s rare that new media skills were taught or were de-emphasized — making the majority of them less competitive. The job market is terrible. More companies are having hiring freezes — or worse, layoffs — meaning fewer opportunities are available. It’s an instance where supply greatly outnumbers demand. And of what jobs are available, these entry-level jobs pay poorly. It’s even worse in broadcast media.

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