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Robert Gammon @RobertGammon
, 17 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Personal/Career News: I’m voluntarily going on an extended hiatus from journalism soon in an attempt to help save a journalism organization about which I care deeply: Telegraph Media, which publishes @EastBayExpress, Oakland and Alameda magazines, and The East Bay Monthly. 1/
This was NOT an easy decision. I absolutely love being a news editor/reporter/columnist. It’s my dream job, and I’ve been lucky to have been able to do it for 22-plus years. But I fear that if folks like me don’t step up to try to help save local print journalism, it will die. 2/
Over the past two decades, I’ve watched far too many local print journalists – reporters, editors, photogs, copy editors – get laid off or take buyouts that they didn’t really want. I’ve also watched others leave print journalism in an attempt to outrun the next round of cuts. 3/
While print journalism on the national scale appears to be thriving – i.e. The New York Times and WaPo – local print journalism has been dying a long slow death. It’s been heartbreaking to watch. A few weeks ago, I realized I needed to try to do *something* about it. 4/
When I first started at the Express in 2004, we had an editorial staff of 17. Today, we’re down to 4.2. Likewise, when my spouse, @ljfernandez, began at the San Jose Mercury News in 1999, it had more than 400 editorial employees. Today? It’s about 40. 5/
And the trend lines for local print journalism keep worsening. (I distinguish *print* because local TV and radio news seem to be still doing OK.) It’s not just bad for local journalists, it’s bad for our communities. Journalism is an essential element of democracy. 6/
As a society, we need journalists to hold the powerful accountable and to reveal wrongdoing. We need them to expose inequality and unjust acts. We also need them to highlight solutions to problems and spotlight people and groups who are helping make our world better. 7/
I’m proud to say that the Express has done this for decades, with its hard-hitting investigative news, provocative opinion writing, and robust arts, culture, food, and music coverage. But if the trends continue, important local institutions like the Express will be no more. 8/
I decided that I simply couldn’t watch that happen. As journalists, we can work hard and produce great stories, but to a large extent, the fate of our news organizations are out of our hands. If newspapers don’t sell ads, they won’t survive, and journalists won’t have jobs. 9/
And local newspaper ad sales have been shrinking steadily for a long time. It’s the main cause of our dilemma. Yes, many news orgs are being eaten by vulture capitalists. But not us: We’re locally owned and operated by folks who are dedicating their lives to the cause. 10/
So after many sleepless nights, I decided I needed to do the same. Effective *April 16*, I’m moving over to the revenue-producing side of our journalism operation. I’m going to dedicate myself to trying to find new ways to fund local news and help keep it alive. 11/
Now, this isn't an altruistic endeavor. It’s also a matter of self-interest. If I didn’t do this, and we go out of business, I’d lose my job. But if I’m successful, and we not just stay in business, then I’ll get to stay employed. And I’ll come back to writing/editing. 12/
It might take a while. I have no illusions: Finding revenues for newspapers is hellishly difficult. Many other fine folks at the Express have been trying their damnedest for years to do it. I could easily flop. In fact, there’s a decent chance that I will. 13/
I’ve had a great ride in journalism, but I know that if I didn’t at least try, and we go belly up in the years ahead, I would regret for the rest of my life not stepping up to do whatever I could.
So, here’s to no regrets. 14/
Wanna help? For Oakland and Alameda magazines, become a subscriber. Here are the links: 15/……
As for the Express and The Monthly, because they’re free, and all their revenue comes from ads, the best thing you can do is pay attention to who our advertisers and then patronize their businesses (tell them that you saw their ads). They’re funding journalism, after all. 16/
Finally, this is not an April Fool’s prank. I’m doing this for real. Wish me/us luck. End/
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