After five days of being semi-unplugged (for me, that means Blackberry-only) on vacation, I returned to “The Real World” on a day like no other I can ever remember in the communications business.
Today, a newspaper reporter faced a deposition in a complex Federal Court case and declined to name his confidential source that led to story that a former Federal prosecutor says damaged his career. Anyone who relies on journalism to stay informed, never mind make a living, should appreciate what Dave Ashenfelter did today. Simply put, he is one of the best in the business. Better yet, his employer, Gannett (often maligned for its corporate policies) is standing behind him. Whether they work for newspapers or any form of media, journalists are a key to our society too often taken for granted. Their legal rights, under the First Amendment, must continue to be protected.
Ashenfelter is a winner of the coveted Pulitzer Prize which, coincidentally, today, of all days, announced that “online only” journalists will be eligible to receive awards in all 14 of its categories. This is another validation of Tanner Friedman’s multi-platform approach and our belief that news takes many forms. Truly a defining moment in the history of the profession of journalism.
Today is also a day to acknowledge the toll taken on the business of news reporting. The venerable Tribune Company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection today. Now, the company, owned privately and owing loan payments bigger than its current revenues will allow, will make cuts under court supervision. We can only hope that this process will somehow lead the company to the innovation it was seeking.
As we often say, if you miss one day in the media business these days, you sure do miss a lot.