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FBLA Interview With Paper Cut’s Erica Smith

Erica Smith, staffer at St. Louis Post-Dispatch and creator and keeper of the Google Map titled Paper Cuts documenting jobs lost in the newspaper industry, gave us a couple of seconds of her time in the wake of the announcement by the New York Times they would be laying off around 100 people by the end of the year:

ES:Is it weird that when I see “FBLA” I still revert to high school and think first of Future Business Leaders of America?

FBLA: *Laugh*

ES: I’m a bit behind the times…I haven’t updated the blog in a couple of weeks because of other projects, but the NYT is on there. they just hadn’t made the number public.

FBLA:We were looking at Paper Cuts and it seems like this year will be the same or close to as 2008 as far as numbers. We’re close to 14,000 this year by October.

ES:When the year started, I thought it would be worse than 2008 in the long run. But maybe there’s just no one left to layoff. although I’m a little worried about 4th quarter layoffs — there were a lot last year. Mostly Gannett.

FBLA:You’re right, forgot about that. You’re still employed – do you have survivors guilt yet?


ES: Yet? I’ve had survivor’s guilt for a year! If not longer.
We haven’t had any big layoffs lately, which kinda helps. but kinda keeps us waiting for that other shoe to drop. Just in case.

FBLA:We’ve grown used to the numbers. They’re no longer shocking. You know?

ES: Yeah, I know. which is sad. But when the NYT — one of the largest, if not the largest — newspaper newsroom still around — says it’s laying off 100 people I almost say “only 100?”

FBLA: Have you seen, like how they try to say with the national unemployment, the bleeding slow down?

ES: Well, I haven’t updated anything in almost two weeks (ok, I just snuck in to update the NYT), and I only know of a couple that need to be added. It’s definitely slower. But it seems to kind of ebb and flow with the quarters — at the end of/start of, there’s almost always something to add.

FBLA:Are you willing to make any predictions? Whats next for the newspapers?

ES: I have no clue. The process of evolution is, evidently, painstakingly slow.

FBLA:Nice answer. What do you think of nonprofit news?

ES: I’m still surprised so many kids are in j-school. especially when i see good journalists jumping into other industries.
I’m not sure about the nonprofit thing. i mean, money still has to come from somewhere. will there be pledge drives? how many papers can bill gates support? if it works, yay. I’m not sold that it’s “the” answer.

FBLA: What do you think is “the” answer?

ES: I have no idea — I still work for a newspaper, remember? you know that annoying phrase “work smarter, not harder”? newspapers are still trying to work hard.

FBLA: Newspapers or newspapermen?

ES: Newspapers. The royal we. And … probably us little people too.

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