Friday, February 27, 2009

Goodbye Rocky Mountain News

For a time this tabloid was the most popular paper in Denver/Front Range. Former Denver Post writer and 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner Pete Chronis made this statement the morning of the News’ final edition, “It’s a death in the family.”


In 2008, more than 200 reporters/editors were let go from the Arizona Republic and East Valley Tribune. On Feb. 20, 2008, the Albuquerque Tribune closed after 86 years. That’s longer than the USSR existed. The Rocky Mountain News was two months shy of being 150 years old.


That makes at least 600 experienced journalists looking for jobs in the Rocky Mountain region.


Yet employers are still hiring the “fresh” person, usually right out of college. Even worse, they are using slave labor and giving it the term “internship.” A Phoenix PR firm uses a “training program” – “The Trainees are the backbone of our organization and embody everything we believe in.” Yet the agency charges its clients $180 per hour while the trainees are paid nothing – and are terminated at the end of the one year training program. “We receive seven to 10 resumes a week and there are 20 spots in the Training Program at any time. It's been more than three years, so you do the math.” I have and it’s called indentured. Any ”client” idiot enough to use this agency…


What happens to those 600 journalists with families to support, including paying rising college tuition? $240 per week unemployment doesn’t go far.


What college professors want you to believe is “when the economy turns around” these journalists will be in demand and flee ship. That’s why employers should hire THEIR graduates rather than 600 journalist now flipping burgers. Right now colleges are the same as bank management – a scam looking for government bailouts. There are few jobs. We’re in a depression. Where are all these college graduates going to get work?


Comments by public relations professors like Bill Sledzik of Kent State don’t fly. “Newly minted grads who display a strong work ethic can pay for themselves quickly. They work hard, and they work for a third of what the seasoned MBA expect to be paid. Yes, I know a lot of the unemployed folks will work for less, but when the economy comes around they’ll be out the door. Employers know that.” Employers should know the journalist is used to coming to work every day and won’t call in sick every Friday or Monday and will not quit in six months, nor will they be backstabbers as the “fresh” public relations practitioners have been in my experience.


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