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Capturing the print diaspora – disruption as a training opportunity

The US newspaper industry shed 10,000 jobs in 2007 and not surprisingly that’s engendered a lot of fear, folly and false prophets. As my own publisher Dana Robbins keeps pointing out, the Canadian Newspaper industry is in much better shape (2007 industry-wide total revenue in Canada dropped just .08%  versus 9.4% in the US).

But there’s no denying nor ignoring the pain south of the border. That’s why it’s kind of refreshing to see the birth of a company aimed at helping journalists and the industry "cross the chasm" from print focused to content focused: TreeHouse Media. Founded by a former Phildelphia Inquirer reporter who left journalism to get his brains bashed out in a dot.com start up, TreeHouse will offer training and conferences and, perhaps, an alternative to the Death of Journalism narrative that so many people seem to be constructing. Here’s their pitch:


Picture_1
Laid off? Bought out? Pissed off? Or just
overworked because you’re one of the "lucky" ones still working for the
walking corpse that is the daily newspaper? Join us, the diaspora, as
we work to recapture the joy and passion of our noble profession.

This opportunity may suit you if you:

  • Are tired of living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Have buyout money or a spouse to pay your current bills while you invest in your future.
  • Want a greater say in your professional and financial destiny.
  • Seek part-time work in addition to a full-time job.

If you are interested, help us develop the curriculum by filling out this short survey. Have questions? E-mail us.

Perhaps more indicative of their attitude and marketing moxie is what happens when you click on the "About" button on their website. This is what you get (minus the *, which I put in):

F**k Google

Fuck Craig’s List. Fuck Wall Street. Yes, we have
ample reason to be bitter. Times have never been worse for newspaper
journalists. The erosion of print readers and advertisers shows no
signs of abating. One in four newspaper jobs have disappeared since
1990 — more than 10,000 in 2007 alone. For most who remain, the future
appears bleak: more cutbacks, more work with fewer people. The pay,
never great even at large Guild shops, can only get worse.

But no amount of bitching will prevent Yahoo from
poaching our readers nor investors from seeking bigger profits. So,
let’s suck it up. First, we should give thanks, for we are far luckier
than the manufacturing workers who have found themselves on the wrong
side of technological change. As knowledge workers, we can benefit from
the technologies that are threatening newspapers’ survival: No longer
does one need a printing press to publish, only a personal computer, an
Internet connection and an idea.

There faculty are mostly non-journalists and I’m not sure if that’s a problem or key to success. And that in-your-face style (their blog is called Fuck Google) combined with their postive message has won them some instant and doubtless welcome attention from the likes of journalism prof and blogger Mindy McAdams, but we’ll have to see whether they’ve got the cattle to go with that hat.

Bill

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