Journalists, quit your bellyaching

Via Romenesko, I read up on Perry Flippin’s meeting with his publisher and the unfortunate news that his position is being eliminated.

It wasn’t the way I wanted to go out, but signs of a major downsizing were inescapable – both at the Standard-Times and throughout the newspaper industry.For 42 years, I have chased stories and looked under rocks and aspired to do good. My reporting aimed to help people be better citizens.

Times change.

Today, instead of serving primarily as watchdogs, we deliver entertainment fodder interspersed with glitzy ads for consumers. The newspaper’s value is measured not by how well it reflects and elevates its community, but by how much money it makes.

I’m not entirely sure how good of a journalist Mr. Flippin (what a cool name, btw) has been, but I’m sure he’s been a good one since he lasted 42 years. But I do know that this was not the best to go out – but it at least got him a mention in Romenesko.

I’m seriously getting tired of journalists whining about the state of business today — wah, the web, wah, the entertainment, wah, the ads. Um, every institution undergoes change — have we not covered how manufacturing jobs have been lost and transplanted to countries with cheaper labor, how police departments have had to police themselves for sexual and other types of harassment, and countless other metamorphosis over the years? Its just like people — they have to undergo change to mature and grow up. Grow up, people.

I personally think Mr. Flippin’s lucky for having have been a journalist for so long, to be quite honest, and not only that — to be a journalist during times when it was fun to be a journalist. While I was a reporter, I often thought to myself that I was born in the wrong time — I would have loved to be a journalist years ago, when scoops were more fun and newsrooms were more congenial. But that’s not the case. Not only are long-time journalists like Mr. Flippin angry and irritated at how newspapers have changed, young journalists are put out that they’re not earning more money, that they’re working so many hours, that they have to work their way up rather than be a superstar from the get go.

Geez. Everybody, go start a Blogger account, a Facebook account, go create some widgets and become part of the revolution. I haven’t even started Twittering yet.

More from the column:

Complicating the outlook is the ever-evolving technology that brings vast information reserves to tiny instruments, such as the iPhone. Hundreds of video channels come streaming off satellites.None of those sources, however, will cover a local City Council meeting, or check the local police blotter or staff the local football game.

Does anyone notice – or care? Good journalism requires shoe leather, gumption, pure hearts and an honest day’s pay.

Does he blame gadgets like the iPhone for the disappearance of shoe leather, gumption and pure hearts? Heheh. I would think gadgets like the iPhone would make shoe leather and gumption that much more efficient. God knows I could do a whole helluva lot as a reporter armed with an iPhone. I blame the disappearance of cop logs, city council reports and local football games on entry-level reporters who have gone to Ivy League schools with $30,000+ tuitions and believe such things are beneath them. Cop logs, city council meetings, school board meetings — those were all a gold mine of tidbits I could turn into stories while I was a reporter. Has that changed? No. But reporters have. I remember, while a reporter at a small paper in Glendale, I had to grab cop logs on the education beat — were we short-handed? No. But the cops reporter at the time was covering a trial and said he couldn’t do it himself, even though I had gotten cop logs while covering trials while on the cops beat, no problem.

What am I trying to say? Put up or shut up. God knows there are tons of jobs out there for former journalists and news writers. Pshhh, I’m surprised Mr. Flippin never went out to teach journalism.