future of real newsman, journalistic job, Kuznia, PR industry, Pulitzer award, regional news outlets
Journalism is good.Pulitzer award is great. But, PR industry is sucking up winning journalists.Your journalistic job options are dwindling. If you hold on to one, your wages probably aren’t keeping pace with inflation. But public relations is growing, and the pay there is, too. Is this the future of real newsman ?
By Jim Tankersley, Chris Isidore and AFP
22 APR 2015. Source: washingtonpost.com,wmur.com,manilatimes.net
The Pulitzer Prize is journalism’s top award, a celebration of all that is good about the profession. Chris Isidore of wmure.com writes , this year it also highlights how hard it is to make a living in local news.As the education reporter at the Daily Breeze in Torrance, California, Kuznia wrote an investigative piece that revealed excessive pay for a local school superintendent of a small, cash-strapped district, as well as other misconduct. The story prompted a federal investigation.
But Kuznia left the paper in August, after 15 years in the business.
“I was able to pay the rent. But I wasn’t able to save anything. A house was a pipe dream,” said Kuznia. “It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the way it was.”
Kuznia started the Daily Breeze in 2010 and he said that soon thereafter the newsroom was forced to take a 5.5% pay cut. In subsequent years, his pay stayed put while the cost of his benefits kept going up.
“It’s the kind of thing if I was in my 20’s I would have been OK with. But I was approaching 40, so it was scary,” he said.
He got a raise after his award-winning investigation was published, but that only brought him back to his starting salary.
While he speaks highly of his editors and colleagues at the paper, he worried about the future of a small local newspapers, especially when even major national papers like the New York Times and USA Today are struggling financially and dealing with layoffs.
The Daily Breeze “was viable as a job, but not viable as a place you would retire from,” he said.
He first looked for jobs at bigger media outlets without any luck. He’s now working in public relations for the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California, which is dedicated to collecting and distributing video interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides.
“When the offer came my way, I couldn’t pass up. Not because I was getting a huge raise, but because it’s a laudable organization that’s doing interesting work and significant work,” he said.
But he’s still open to journalism job offers.
Jim Tankersley of washingtonpost.com observes, These are signs of the collapse of the business model for regional news outlets and of the forces pulling on journalists outside a few insulated cities. They are the reasons why, when it came to light this week that two new winners of the Pulitzer Prize had left their medium-sized newspapers for careers in PR, no one should have been surprised.
If you want a reporting job today, your best bet is to move to D.C., L.A. or New York. They were home to almost one in every five reporting jobs in 2014, up from one in eight in 2004. Anywhere else, your journalistic job options are dwindling. If you hold on to one, your wages probably aren’t keeping pace with inflation. But public relations is growing, and the pay there is, too.
So if you want to keep living and working in, say, Portland, the incentives are pushing hard for you to make a jump. Of the four reporters who won the public service Pulitzer for the Oregonian in 2001, two have left journalism – one for a government communications job, one to teach journalism to college students. It’s hard to count how many of the other reporters who were doing high-value work back then at the paper – which gave me my first job out of college, in 2000 – have also left the business.
“I’ve joked that every government spokesman job in Oregon is held by a former Oregonian reporter,” the paper’s former editor, Peter Bhatia, who is now a professor of journalism ethics at Arizona State University, told me this week. “It’s not that far off.”
AFP reports, in another interview on the Shoah Foundation website, Kuznia ruled out a return to his former profession, and expressed satisfaction in working on “global issues of the highest magnitude,” such as the fight against genocide and for greater tolerance.
“I’m very excited to be playing on a bigger stage,” Kuznia said.
The Pulitzer committee, in announcing the award, hailed the Daily Breeze’s “inquiry into widespread corruption in a small, cash-strapped school district, including impressive use of the paper’s website.”
First awarded in 1917, Pulitzer Prizes honor work published by US news organizations, or of American authors and composers.