Sunset clause

It’s no great secret that newspapers are in decline. But I had a sad reminder tonight of this failing industry’s human cost.

This evening I helped host a reunion for the photographers and imaging technicians with whom I used to work at the local paper. My former boss and I sent out some 40 invitations. Only 7 people showed up (including me and my boss).

Around the table, the stories were the same: My former colleagues are struggling to find good jobs. They’re discovering that their skills won’t transfer to other industries. And, to a person, they’re facing some tough choices. Settle for being a security guard—or go back to school at age 55?

Never have I had so stark a reminder of how incredibly lucky I’ve been to land on my feet. And never have I been so acutely aware of how lucky I was to work at the paper back in its heyday, when it was vibrant and thriving.

I still have hope that my former colleagues will each find a new niche. But I don’t think I’ll be able to read another grim statistic about the decline of newspapers without also thinking about the human cost of that decline.

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