Musings —03.06.2013 08:40 AM—
There are no bylines in the Toronto Star’s print edition today. Journalists there have pulled their bylines, as their collective agreement permits, to protest cuts and layoffs earlier this week.
You can debate whether it is an effective tactic or not. Personally, I mourn for the loss of every newspaper and every newspaper job. Our democracy is diminished by the slow death of newspapers – which, whether I like it or not, is fully underway.
The byline strike got me thinking existentially, however. It reminded me of something that happens to me – and perhaps to you – all the time.
It’s the disappearing of journalists. For years, you see them on TV, hear them on the radio, read them in newspapers. And then, one day, they are abruptly gone. Firings, layoffs, health, retirements, whatever. Whatever the reason, they’re gone.
And here’s the thing: I forget about them. People who had been so important to me, every day and for a long time, simply get forgotten. They disappear, and I don’t notice. Occasionally, something happens and I am fleetingly jarred into remembering them, and their writing. But, most of the time, I don’t remember anything at all.
With the exception of a few voices who I will always recall – Jay Scott, Dalton Camp, Peter Gzowski, Lester Bangs, a small number of others – I actually don’t remember most of them when they disappear. I just don’t.
This, I think, says more about me than the forgotten. Maybe it says something, too, about how transitory journalism really is. One minute you’re a big deal, the next minute you don’t exist.
So, selfishly, I ask: when I one day shut down this web site – and I will, I will – will most of you remember it?
I doubt it.