As if the news the GateHouse planned to merge with Gannett was not sobering enough, sure there would be more journalism job losses affecting the size of local reporting staffs — especially those covering aspects of their communities that make them unique. The old rule used to be one reporter/editor per thousand circulation. I operated under that stricture for years — when print newspapers were profitable .
This was before mega-mergers, and afternoon newspapers still lived, precariously.
Only in times of recession — and in the late Carter years and early Reagan years they occurred, usually tied to oil embargoes, caps on natural gas prices — did I have to choose to fill a vacancy for the reporter covering Virginia ports and the nation’s largest shipyard, or one covering the military on northside Hampton Roads, or leaving a spot open on the three-person general assignment team usually assigned special projects or investigations.
How many of those kinds of reporters are still around ?
Copy editing , photography, and graphic design — having already been outsourced, combined, so cuts there — so-called low-hanging fruit — are long gone. An interesting corollary to that is the demise of local print newspapers and the rise of political polarization. [Thanks to Cindy Elmore at East Carolina University — for this]