On the evening of Saturday, February 28, about one hundred people gathered in a conference room at CUNY’s Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies in midtown Manhattan to salute Steven Greenhouse on the occasion of his retirement from The New York Times. For thirty-one years, Greenhouse had worked at the paper, the last nineteen of them covering labor. In December, he had taken a buyout—part of a cost-cutting campaign aimed at eliminating one hundred positions from the newsroom—and the tribute to him was one of a series of doleful farewells held to mark the exodus of so many veteran reporters.Not all was gloom, however. After the announcement of Greenhouse’s departure, the Times had come under intense pressure to fill the labor beat, and in mid-February it announced that it would, with Noam Scheiber, a longtime editor and writer at The New Republic, who had left in the upheaval at that publication. More generally, the labor advocates present at the gathering expressed satisfaction at how the coverage of labor has rebounded as the interest in inequality has surged.Among the journalists present, however, there was no such cheer. “No one can feel secure,” said one Times reporter who had survived the cut. Her comment captured the climate of fear and insecurity that has gripped traditional news organizations in the digital era. “Disruption” is the catch-all phrase. Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst interviewed by NPR at the time of the shake-up at The New Republic, said that “what you’ve got is an old brand, a venerable brand…that is roiled by digital disruption the same way The New York Times is, Time Inc. is, NBC, ABC, NPR, BBC, you name it.” And, he said, “We’re really just at the beginning of that process. It’s creative disruption, as we would call it in Silicon Valley, but it can be pretty ugly in the short term.”…MORE
From the same author: The End of News?