Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Lou & reality

We are highlighting this anonymous TSF comment for its eloquence. Anonymous, for obvious reasons, but refreshingly insightful commentary in this age of newsroom uncertainty.

The comment, in reply to our Lou & Robin posting, reads:

"I only met Lou (Clancy) once and it was brief. We shook hands, shared a couple words and what wasn't said was all I could hear. He didn't have to say anything. I knew what was once available was no longer.

"A feeling of lost hope came crashing upon me, but at least he didn't pretend otherwise. A look was all it took. That's my Lou story. It's simple.

"Lou had a reputation of being a great guy to work for. Sadly, many of us 'younger' reporters will never get to experience what it is like to work for a real newspaper guy.

"Sun dailies are full of what some of us call 'last men standing.' I don't want to put down a person trying to put food on the table, but when they pretend and behave as though they know news, it's sickening. It's disheartening to know they are exactly what is desired by the signature on my cheque. The decisions they make are enough to make a person cringe.

"It's one of the hardest aspects of 'corporate media' to swallow. Despite how much you want something, unless a miracle occurs you'll never know what it is like to respect your editors.

"That's the the real sad state of the newspaper industry. Papers aren't only dying, but so are reporters. They're killing us off one by one. I'm not talking about those who consider themselves 'journalists,' but those who know they are reporters.

"Not writers, but reporters. Not in it for the byline, but the story. A pub over the annual press gallery gala. The guy that can get into buildings, get names, get people to talk. These type of people are few and far between nowadays.

"I'm under 30 but bleed ink to the point I need a transfusion. Working for the Sun and knowing the world is closing in around any escape plan is tiring, soul-crushing and becoming timeworn.

"With all the slashing, cutting and the closing of doors on opportunity/advancement, we stand to kill off the reporter. The person that was once applauded and appreciated in newsrooms is no longer. They've made way for those who will follow in line.

"Whatever ever happened to the edgy, teeth-gnashing digger refusing to take no for an answer and willing to push the limits reporter? More importantly, whatever happened to the editor that would back him or her?

"Doing it right is why I got into the business.

"The day of the newspaperman is nearly over. It is faint and desolate. I worry the wave long ago reached its break. But I stay, keep on keepin' on, waiting, looking for any opportunity. Giving in is not an option, but it grows stronger daily.

"I tread softly because any missteps will see me working more weekends, stuck on nightshifts or doing streeters. After all, it's the only real power they have over me.

"Here's to those who have been there and also to those who feel the pain of the last man standing.

"Long live the reporter.


"A reporter chained to his desk like a dog in a cage."

Thank you for your comment. We feel your pain.


  1. Ah, that's sweet. The kids knows it all.

  2. "I tread softly because any missteps will see me working more weekends, stuck on nightshifts or doing streeters. After all, it's the only real power they have over me."

    If the writer were truly the reporter he claims to be, working weekends or nightshifts wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference — news is available at any time and any place and those of us who have actually been around for a few years know that. As I was told many years ago: "There are no small stories, there are only small reporters."

    Despite claiming to represent the best in our profession, this reporter reminds me too much of so many other young journalists I have seen over the years who want to be handed the "big" stories or the "big" opportunities but won't put in the work to warrant the shot and don't recognize that great reporters make their own breaks by doing the legwork and putting in the effort. They need nothing handed to them; they know how to go out and find it and when they find it, make the most of it.

    A few years ago I had a reporter ask me why other reporters got all the big stories and she didn't. Yet when I told her -- namely the other reporters were willing to dig deeper, make extra calls, drive extra distances, wait for something to develop, not walk out the door after exactly eight hours of work, and not argue with their editors about whether a story was "worth" their time and effort -- I got looked at as if I was talking a foreign language. Those other reporters, by the way, have all recently been to the Ontario Newspaper Awards, not for stories they were handed by editors but for work they did to take their stories above and beyond.

    That reporter, like this one I suspect, talked the talk but never walked the walk. If this correspondent was as good as he or she claims to be, he or she would not be waiting for approval, or need his editor to "have his back". He would be getting the job done on his own, overcoming obstacles and putting his work out there for the readers to judge. Instead he would rather whine about how hard done by he is and how it's not his fault he can't be as great as he thinks he is.

    Feel his pain? Not in the least. I feel the pain of the readers of his newspaper who aren't getting full value for their money from people like this who would rather collect a pay cheque and talk about how great they are than actually put in the work to be that great.

  3. Ya, but he doesn't know the difference between WHO and THAT.

  4. Feel it....been there...seen too many old dogs taken out to the loading dock and shot...me included.