It’s rare to find an editor who will put his money where his mouth is when talking about newsroom cuts, but Steve Smith, editor of the Spokane, Wash. Spokesman-Review, has resigned from the paper to do just that.
Smith tells Knight Digital Media Center: “It is no longer my job or our job to save newspapers. Our job is to save journalism and the values that underlie newspaper journalism,” such as the free flow of information and aggressive coverage of government.
Smith sounds as though he’s daring other editors and reporters to follow suit, saying, “It is time to stop standing behind our salaries, our bonuses and our pensions and stand up and say what needs to be said” — that short-term thinking and cutbacks are “dooming our organizations to irrelevance and causing irreparable harm to our systems and society without consideration of the larger loss.”
True statements, all of them. But how will leaving the paper help save journalism? Smith explains: By resigning, Smith says, “I regain my voice.” Smith said he has not felt free to speak out about the journalistic decline that comes from cuts in an industry environment that promises more with less. “I simply wasn’t willing to stand up and tell people things would be better or even OK. And our publisher needs someone who can do that.”