GateHouse — I found my first-ever post-college actual real Newspaper Job in the gray back pages of Editor & Publisher, the highly respected and absurdly long-running industry publication that covered newspapers for 108 years — literally 108, as in more than a century, as in the Cubs have won many World Series since it’s been around.
I say “covered” because E&P suddenly folded last week, making it a very visible casualty of the epic and unremitting print-journalism final-half-hour-of-“Braveheart” in one sense, but in another it was nothing more than the newest.
You could, of course, fill books with sweat-drenched tales of the abused, scorched-earth nature of what passes as the current state of journalism, and many people have, except they’re not books, they’re the Internet, which is free and does not require publishers to purchase Donkey Kong barrel-sized monster-rolls of delicious Amazon Rainforest Paper and, as such, some people think it may have a future of some kind.
(OK, full disclosure: Actually, I got my second job out of E&P, but I am quietly fudging details in order to amplify dramatic effect, a tactic which will be a major part of the Future of Journalism, so get used to it, readers in all 52 states.)
E&P’s back pages used to contain Classified Ads, which, for you fresh-faced young people were tiny advertisements that used to run in the back pages of newspapers and were very successful, until Craigslist came along and destroyed everything for everybody, except Craig.
In that first Newspaper Job I was a page designer, which means I routinely worked into the late hours of the night, which means I often found myself waiting for proofs/killing time in expansive, largely deserted newsrooms, where most reasonable people had already decamped for the night, where the environmental noise provided by a hundred humming computers, the occasional, near-hieroglyphic bursts of liveliness from the police scanner and the eerie, speechless tappity-tappity of the copy desk staff became a sort of ambient comfort. Usually I’d do this by stumbling around the early, Times New Roman-heavy wonderlands of the World Wide Web (“This site has U2 setlists already posted from JUST LAST WEEK! And look at all these unattributed movie rumors — why, I am sure this wild brand of shameless unchecked pop-gossip will never last!”) and looking for jobs, which you used to be able to do in newspapers, all by yourself.
These days are over, of course, and hardly just for journalists; we just have access to a platform from which we can whine about it more conveniently. And that we do. Columnists like the NYT’s David Brooks write lengthy pieces about torch-passing and old-school insiders’-club-busting and this bright, vague Devastator-like monster that will be gloriously assembled from the scrap chunks of Old Journalism’s substantial corpse, but in the end no one can muster much more than a closing graf blankly handing over some shapeless power to The Young People, and hoping they can come up with something, like, now would be good.
Well, worry no more, Journalism Industry, I have the solution to all of our job-related woes, a single-step way to further your journalism career and secure a high-profile job in a major-market metro: just sleep with Eliot Spitzer, for money.
Now, before I go any further I should note that I am currently unprepared to take this important step (just playing devil’s advocate here, but Mark Sanford could make his smoochy mash notes dance a linguistic tango, while Spitzer looks like someone squished together John C. Reilly and an elderly cantaloupe and mowed down the middle quadrant of the resulting abhorrence’s hair).
But I am also not Ashley Alexandra Dupre — no really, I’m not, I checked my Facebook — who now has a love-and-sex advice column in the New York City’s vivacious newspaper-like delicious-pun factory, the New York Post. Now, despite what you may have been led to believe by a sextastic and terribly written HBO series/delicious pun factory, being a sex advice columnist for a newspaper is not necessarily the urbane success story you might be hoping for when you land your journalism degree; it’s more like being someone who hosts a morning show on FM. But that said, it is a high-profile and certainly lucrative job that went not to a skilled educated journalism person but a former hooker, which is pretty hard to get around if you spend any portion of your nights flinging Scotch at your stack of college newspapers.