Where Did All the Staff Reporters Go?

Reading the physical paper is a vastly different experience than reading the same stories online.  Not saying it is better — just different.  And that difference told a very interesting story at the Boston Globe recently.

One way reading a physical paper is different from reading online is being able to see at a glance all the stories on a page — and not just the headlines and the links, but the whole story, bylines and all.  In this case, the story told is one of lay-offs,  an increased use of freelancers and people trying to make a living any way they can.

It was the front page of the Boston Globe Business section. (The link won’t tell this story — only looking at the physical Globe will.)  Globe Correspondent.  Globe Correspondent.  Globe Correspondent.  Globe Correspondent is what the Globe calls its freelancers.  Every single story on the page was written by a Globe Correspondent — I’ve noticed this a couple of times.  A no-bennies, no-promises of continued employment or regular work Correspondent .

But before I descend into a rant about the sad state of American journalism, a commentary about how this is a wrong-headed approach, or start questioning what this will do to the quality of Globe business reporting, I want to take a left turn.

Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.  More and more of us today are cobbling together a decent living — a fledgling business, some consulting, a part-time job.  When you live in Massachusetts or otherwise have the ability to purchase health care insurance relatively easily (I said relatively — it pretty much sucks no matter what), you have the ability to work outside the usual full-time, one person-one job model.

Scott Kirsner writes columns for the Globe.  He also freelances for other publications.  He writes books.  He blogs.  He hosts events.  He’s become the face of the New England Innovation Economy.  Would he be able to do all this if he had a 40-hour workweek and a single employer?  (I don’t pretend to know Scott’s personal situation — maybe he does and just burns the candle at both ends.)

I worked with Dan Englander from High Rock Media to create Mass Innovation Nights — an event that probably wouldn’t exist if either of us had full-time jobs.

I have plenty of friends who freelancing or consulting right now.

What do you think?  Is a page of Globe Correspondents a recipe for disaster or one way we’re going to move forward?

One thought on “Where Did All the Staff Reporters Go?

  1. I’m a big believer that we’re seeing a paradigm shift from a large number of people being directly employed by massive corporations to a lot of people starting their own smaller firms and/or freelancing. You can count me in that group, I freelance and own a small firm and much prefer it to working a 9 to 5 in a big corporate cubicle.

    The freedom freelancing gives people is something I think a lot of people are becoming interested in. And for the client hiring the freelancer, it gives them freedom too, to drop the freelancer and find another. In the news business, it’s the stories that count. Whether it’s a freelancer or staff writer publishing that story matters little to the reader. Relying on freelancers turns the Globe into a dynamic fast acting machine rather than a stagnant mammoth beast.

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