Editorial Reporting: (Towerlight) Good news for true journalists

Scripps CEO Rich Boehne - Photo by Daniel Gross

Scripps CEO Rich Boehne - Photo by Daniel Gross

In the digital information age we live in today, we all know that the journalism industry is dying, right? I mean, haven’t you heard your colleagues or co-workers point to journalism as a washed-up industry with no hope of survival? If you have, try to take a step back and consider the following.

Over the winter break, I had the opportunity to sit down with the head of the E.W. Scripps Company, Richard Boehne.

Boehne, 54, is the president and CEO of the major media conglomerate. This is the same corporation that owns newspapers in 14 American markets and 10 television stations in nine markets. In addition, it has several schools at major universities in its name, sponsors the national spelling bee, and is partnered with the Scripps Networks Interactive, which owns television stations like the Food Network and HGTV.

It is also a company that, like many others, has had to make major business cuts, several changes in payment plans, and some big-time investment decisions. Scripps has shut down several major newspapers, including well-known daily the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colo., a year and a half ago.

“I’ve been through a lot of wild things. In a career, that was the worst day of my career,” Boehne said. “You just look at a paper that’s losing money and don’t see any way to make it profitable and decide, ‘Do we need to make everybody else in the whole company subsidize one market?’ It just didn’t make any sense.”

But the big-time closure does not mean the company is on a downward spiral to non-existence. In fact, Scripps appears to be thriving, and although Boehne has had to make some difficult executive decisions in the past several years, he has much hope for the future of the company and the future of journalism as a whole. All of Scripps’ newspapers are now self-sustaining and even profitable, according to Boehne. Once again, cuts have been made and newsrooms are now operating on a smaller scale, but news is still there and journalists still have opportunities.

The Internet’s impact on journalism

Boehne said he attributes much of the decline in newspapers to the global economic crisis, which has affected much more than the news industry. In addition, he said there is no question that the entire realm of print media has had to adjust since the rise of the Internet.

The popularity of the Web has completely altered the profitability of newspapers, and that’s no secret. But because of this, professors and students alike are raising their hands in confusion as to how the industry can be saved. For Boehne, it’s not a mystery.

To read the full editorial, go to thetowerlight.com.

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