01.20.2010 09:30 AM

The Graveyard of Broken Dreams

A hundred lifetimes ago, I was a cops and courts reporter at the Ottawa Citizen. One day, I had to go in for a performance review. When I got there, I told my editors – Randy and Deb – that I was leaving to practice law.

Randy told me some nice things about what he thought my future would have been like in journalism. It made me feel good, and I even wondered whether I was making the right decision.

The intervening years, I think, tell me that I made the right decision. As this week’s dumb, dumb, dumb layoffs at CITY-TV make clear, the people who run media organizations may be good at many things, but running media organizations isn’t one of them.

Anne Mroczkowski? Farah Nasser? They let go professionals with that much experience? I have been interviewed many times by both women – and by many others at CITY – and a more capable group of journalists you will seldom meet. It is extraordinary to me – it is crazy – that the deservedly-reviled bean counters are eager to kick that kind of experience to the curb. It makes no sense, economically or otherwise.

That’s why I am glad I decided to write books, and stay away from daily journalism. The media mavens have no regard, at all, for their one and only strength – their people. They treat their people like shit, in fact. Fear, paranoia and self-doubt pervade every newsroom, everywhere, because the likes of Anne and Farah are being treated so appallingly so frequently. Newsrooms are, as the cliché goes, the graveyard of broken dreams.

I used to teach journalism and law at Carleton. If I was still there, I’d tell my students to forget about the former and choose a career in the latter. Or basket-weaving. Or whatever.

Any career, in fact, is better than daily journalism.

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