As someone happened to ask me on the weekend, "What the hell is happening to all these journalists getting fired everywhere?" At the time I bluffed some answer like, "they're going to have to get more creative and fill a new niche" or something. But the truth is rather sadder: they're lost. They're utterly, utterly lost, and it's sad.
Jim Hopkins, 51, was a writer and editor at the Gannett group, which publishes USA Today among other titles, where Hopkins worked for 20 years. Lately, Gannett has been firing everybody. Hopkins among them. So he's started a blog about Gannett, selling Google ads and soliciting "voluntary subscriptions" through paypal.
Today, Hopkins set himself a challenge: Make $24,000 from blogging by the end of the year, or "all bets are off." So far, he's raised $315 through voluntary subscriptions, and about 15 cents from Google ads, which really do pay appallingly. He writes:
My experiment opens a window on the reality of today's journalism finance: Can this blog generate enough revenue to support its continued publication? We're going to find out! Relying on two revenue streams -- ads, and a voluntary subscription fee -- I'll share embarrassing details of how much I earn in the months ahead. Starting today, you've got front-row seats to the launch of a 51-year-old journalist's second career.
It's like reading The Old Man and the Sea. The worst part is the "related articles" tag at the end of his post: "Why recessions are actually good times to start a business." You go for your life, Jim. Poor chap.