A frequent reader and friend asked me whether or not I had solutions for the problems I've been discussing lately regarding print media in general and our paper specifically. That's a difficult question, given that most of the decisions made regarding a news staff are, in my experience, made at top levels far removed from our community, let alone our staff. Budget issues, stock holder demands and the economic downturn are all being reacted to by people we rarely if ever see, who don't know our names and certainly don't know the struggles we face on a daily basis. Our immediate supervisors are more than sympathetic to our plight, but when they request to have an open position filled, the person deciding that is often unconnected with our newsroom. How can we fix our budget problems? Well, right now we're trying to staunch the flow of blood by tightening the tourniquet around our own necks. What we can't do is do anything about the shrinking cash flow from our advertisers. When our bread and butter is revenue from home and car sale ads, and the economic crises means people aren't buying either, well we're a bit stuck. We're doing better as a paper to target on-line ad revenue, but even that pool is shrinking as advertisers cut their own budgets back. So what we're faced with is doing more with less. Which is exactly what our supervisors are asking us to do. Only, many of us have been working break-neck style already, just trying to do a good job. Now that there are fewer of us, the demands are increasing, yet the hours we're given to do our jobs aren't growing, and we are still expected to do a good job of our previous duties in addition to these new tasks. The short answer is that something has got to give. Either we do a sloppy job and get everything done, or we recognize that we're going to have to start giving up certain things. And that's what we're trying to do. The Buzz, a popular person-on-the-street style feature we usually run on Tuesdays, is going away because we don't have the staff to send out to interview those folks on a regular basis. Our Entertainer section has shrunk to combine with the TV Guide, so that means shorter calendars, shorter stories and fewer photos. I guess those are the things that we're trying to do to simply keep doing the best job we can with fewer fingers on the keyboard. I'm interested in hearing from other reporters who are facing similar struggles about how they keep doing a great job under increasingly difficult circumstances.
I'm a native Oregonian who, up until recently, has been reporting on local issues in Portland, Forest Grove and currently Corvallis. I am now an editor of an internal publication at a local university, making the transition from the newsroom to world of academia. I continue to write, photograph and explore the world of podcasting in my work, and am eager to explore my new opportunities.