It’s just a crazy time to be in the newspaper business these days. And it got too crazy for Eric Crawford.
Crawford made his exit last week, jumping from his “dream job” as columnist at the Louisville Courier-Journal to join WDRB, where he will write on that TV station’s site. Long-time C-J columnist Rich Bozich also did the same thing.
In a post with the headline, “Why I walked away from the only job I ever wanted growing up,” Crawford writes:
I loved being in the newspaper. I did not love the newspaper business. Sportswriters get front-row seats. But the shrinking of a newspaper I grew up with and loved was not something I cared to watch from the inside any longer.
There were too many meetings run by executives in McLean, Va., too many “news” initiatives dictated from afar that detracted from news needs on the ground here. And in the end, there were too few of my colleagues left in the building, too many gifted people with productive years left being spun back into the community instead of staying where they belonged, inside that building to cover it.
It wasn’t the fault of local editors and publishers. They could no more stop the slide than they could stop severe storms. If left to call the shots on their own, I have no doubt that a different course would have been set for the newspaper long ago, and its status today would have been far different. But no one in Louisville, ultimately, is calling the shots for Louisville’s paper.
Later, Crawford writes:
Around the nation, especially in cities like New Orleans, Birmingham and Mobile, which soon will see their newspaper circulation cut to three days a week, people are re-examining the importance of local media to life in their cities. In New Orleans, the owner of the NFL’s Saints appealed to the out-of-town owner of The New Orleans Times-Picayune to continue daily print publication.
In more cities than this one, out-of-town corporate interests dictating major media decisions is the norm, as is the reduction of reporting staff, furloughing of employees and, soon, the sharing of news operations among competitors.
These are trends WDRB has rejected, and has had the freedom to reject because of a largely autonomous Louisville-based leadership.