Newspapers and Magazines Laying Off Like Mad–A Boon for Indymedia?

  • Newspapers and Magazines Laying Off Like Mad–A Boon for Indymedia?
    The NY Times reports that “Newspapers Plan More Cuts as Their Ad Revenues Fall,” with Gannet’s USA Today making its first ever layoff of journalists, along with cutbacks at Knight-Ridder and the NY Times’ parent company. Since newpapers now operate under the same rules as other industries with regard to their labor force–cut jobs in order to preserve big profits–how can anyone expect them to be remotely objective when covering layoffs in, say, the manufacturing sector? In a room full of killers, you’ll never find anyone pointing a finger and calling someone else a murderer. It’s honor amongst thieves.

    Perhaps this turn of events can be an advantage for independent media. These newly out-of-work reporters are unlikely to garner much empathy from their still-employed peers, whose loyalty to business as usual is necessary to avoid their own unemployment. Nor are they likely to read sympathetic stories in the mainstream press that did not hesitate to sacrifice them for their investors’ profits. Yet there are other journalists, reporters and media-makers who are far more sensitive to the plight of the downsized and underemployed.

    With more time on their hands, laid off journalists and media workers actually have a great opportunity to do in-depth, challenging journalism, without the intrusive oversight of editors under intense profit pressure from corporate managers. It’s a grand opportunity for former corporate reporters to begin their deprogramming and go back to their roots, before they were jaded and chewed up. Indymedia Centers are a perfect resource for this ethical renaissance. And Indymedia centers can always use more talented volunteer journalists who can both contribute stories and help instruct would-be citizen-journalists. A increase in well-researched and written stories and reports can only increase the visability and perceived value of the Indymedia movement, only helping these centers raise funds, which can be used to pay citizen-journalists (like laid-off former corporate journalists).

    Indymedia Centers, free of stringent profit-pressures (and advertising), can provide journalists and would-be journalists the freedom to pursue stories and ideas filtered out of the mainstream and corporate media, along with an outlet for their world-wide distribution. And Indymedia Centers also need the influx and influence of expertise and experience in the field of journalism. I see nothing but a tremendously symbiotic potential, and a way to turn a downsize into an opportunity. There’s no good reason that Indymedia Centers can’t become more than volunteer enterprises, employing journalists and other media makers, providing real and necessary financial support for free communication. Maybe this is one way. It can happen.

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