former journalists discuss a profession in crisis

Last of the ‘Lifers’? Milwaukee Magazine Reviews Out of the News UPDATED

In Blog on January 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

Updated to add!  The review and the book also got a mention yesterday from Jim Romenesko in a post on journalists leaving the newsroom.

A great review of Out of the News yesterday by Milwaukee Magazine’s Erik Gunn. He was even inspired to find out what the lives of some of his former colleagues have been like since they left the newsroom:

The simultaneous explosion and implosion of media may be especially dispiriting for the would-be lifers: If journalism is all you ever wanted to do, what happens when the craft changes so much it seems unrecognizable, or the ranks of working journalists become so decimated that you have no choice but to explore something new?

I pondered that question while perusing Out of the News: Former Journalists Discuss a Profession in Crisis (McFarland & Co., 203 pp.), by Celia Viggo Wexler. Wexler, a newspaper reporter turned lobbyist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, produced the book from probing interviews with 11 journalists who found themselves forced by conscience or circumstance to leave the profession. (Disclosure: Nearly 30 years ago in Rochester, N.Y., Wexler and I knew each other while working for competing newspapers.)

Probably her most prominent subject is David Simon, the former Baltimore Sun reporter and creator of acclaimed TV shows including The Wire, which devoted one season to the struggles inside an urban newspaper. But the other 10, virtually all from the top ranks of media organizations, have stories just as compelling.

As the subtitle of Wexler’s book says, those stories add up to a picture of crisis in the news industry. Yet they also hint at a more hopeful narrative: that from the ashes of journalism as we knew it, something new and in its own way better, however different, could yet emerge.

Reading their stories got me to thinking about colleagues who have found their way to new lives outside traditional newsgathering.

Read the whole review at Milwaukee Magazine

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