My wife and I were walking through our local grocery store last week when I spotted a skeleton near the entrance. It was one of many they had set up for the Halloween season. Whoever set it up, placed the boney figure next to the newspaper stand.
That struck me as funny.
But at the same time, not really.
There was a time when I seriously considered pursuing a career in journalism. My first degree's in Communications and, back in the late 1980s, the printed page was where a majority of people got their news. I even worked as a reporter for a local newspaper twice, once in the mid-1990s, and again a few years later. I was a sports reporter for the Davis County Clipper and I loved it. I covered Woods Cross High School football and basketball, as well as Viewmont High School volleyball, soccer, and baseball. I was paid practically nothing--not that the small paper could pay that much--but I didn't mind. It was fun and, to the parents of the high school players, important.
Boy, have times changed.
One thing I remembered about the Davis County Clipper was its size--it was always so much smaller than the larger Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret News. Now, those two papers--the biggest papers in my state--are smaller today than what the Clipper was back then. I have friends who work, and have worked, as reporters. Some of them still do, most do not.
It's been a brutal time for print journalism.
And I don't know if it's going to get any better.
The skeleton extending its arm to the few remaining copies of the daily news represented to me what has happened to the industry in the past thirty years. I haven't studied the matter; I don't have facts and figures to back up my opinion, and I have no idea what's going to happen. Will papers disappear all together? Will people pay for news content on-line that they've always gotten for free? I'd hate for the skeleton to become prophetic as it cast a shadow of doom over the papers, but I'm not seeing a lot of options.
I suppose time will tell.