When PR is a Journalist’s Savior, Newspapers Have Gone to Hell

…In a few years I seriously worry there will be much worth reading in newspapers. I already know I’m getting most of my news off the Web.” – Charles Bingham, 17-year newspaper veteran

In a commentary posted online via Romenesko, the above-mentioned Bingham describes his move from a career in journalism to a new life in public relations. This was not an act of deliberation, but of desperation and disillusionment with the print journalism profession. More significantly, it represents another nail in the coffin of mainstream newspapers – and quite possibly the tombstone itself.

Bingham explains:

“After 17 years as a journalist, I finally was forced to make the leap to public relations last November,” Bingham wrote. “I hated to do it, because I love journalism. But I’m in my 40s and I was tired of the layoffs and low pay. Journalists who are just starting out aren’t the only ones who need to worry about the future of this industry. Mid-career journalists also have issues, especially as we see more corporate suits taking over newspapers.”

Later he added:

“I miss journalism, but the time came to move on. For the most part I didn’t mind the low wages because I was doing something I loved, but nowadays there’s no corporate loyalty and the suits don’t respect the tradeoff made by many journalists to be in the field. As much as I love the job, I don’t know that I can recommend it to anyone these days.”

There’s nothing wrong with a journalist leaving to pursue a public relations career (I did it and have no regrets.) What’s wrong is when a dedicated, award winning professional leaves the job he loves because there is no money, no respect and no future.

As we read about the demise of newspapers and pressure for profit, remember that every rant, opinion and number you see has a human counterpart. Yes, newspapers are dying, but that’s no excuse for journalism to suffer the same fate.

Journalists like Bingham have a vital role to play in the future of news and in how newspapers will evolve to serve future generations (and they will.) I just hope that when the newspaper industry wakes up, all the good journalists won’t be somewhere else writing press releases.

(Hat tip: Media Orchard)

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