Update 1: Well, they’ve taken down the video. Essentially, it shows empty hallways and empty desks.
Update 2 below.
Want a metaphor of the hollowing out of the newspaper industry? I walked these halls for 27 years when I worked for the News & Record.
In a way it’s deceptive. The building isn’t vacant, but part of it is. A staff of hard-working, serious-minded journalists who want to serve their readers, our community, and to get it right put out the news every day. The newsroom — not shown here — has desks that overflow with paper and coffee cups and the detritus that all journalists save, just like newsrooms everywhere.
But there are fewer of them. Many fewer. I still bear the emotional scars of contributing to the emptiness.
I’ve been in the building once since I left in 2011 — to mourn the passing of a beloved colleague — and I didn’t venture beyond the first-floor auditorium. I didn’t want to; it was haunting enough then.
My friend Jeri Rowe sent the video to me and said it would break my heart. It doesn’t. It makes me sad. The building is filled with memories of journalists here and gone. Of personalities that were larger than life. Of stories that kicked ass and won awards and made a difference.
But that time is over, or soon will be. The same day Jeri sent me this, Jeff Jarvis posed this question in an incisive piece on Medium: “Is it possible to turn a content-based, information-based business into one that is built on and begins with the public conversation and is based on service?”
He believes we can. I do, too.
My old newspaper building is for sale, and when it is, it will be torn down to make way for something new. And that’s probably the most apt metaphor. The staff will move to a smaller place and, I hope, find new and better ways to start the conversation and to serve the community.
Update: Cindy Loman, editor of the N&R, writes: “Though we have lots of empty spaces (thus the plan to move to a smaller building) the video is misleading. It spotlights the former work area of the ad department, which has moved downstairs, to a brighter area that offers more interaction among the employees.”