After the Star Ledger announced successful negotiations with its unions, the paper found a way to cover its expenses — at least for now.
Newarkers, though, still have plenty to be concerned about their local paper as the 151-person buyout has offered a year’s salary and healthcare and many of those that took the package are some of the best and insightful reporters on the City Hall beat.
Notable journalists such as Jeff Mays, Katie Wang and the notorious Joan Whitlow will be leaving the Star Ledger at a date still yet to be revealed to the staff — and these are just a handful of people leaving in the long line of brain drain from the news room.
(Remember Rob Gebeloff, who used to write the NJ Stat Attack blog and managed the NJ.com By the Numbers feature? Nobody’s touched it since February when he left for another local paper whose name ends with “Times”.)
The Ledger is looking to move much of its content online and has started a few promising ventures like Newark Live and Ledger Live. But we get word from a staffer that the relationship between the paper and “some guys in Secaucus” who manage nj.com is “like a bad marriage, and we want a divorce.” I bet that makes for some fun meetings.
While these are troubling times for old media, it’s certainly an opportunity for new, niche media to sweep in and grab up some marketshare. The consolidation of old properties is reducing the number of media contacts for local organizations to reach out to, and as a result I’ve found people very willing to talk to “bloggers” as an alternate means of getting a message out.
We may see insightful coverage from the Ledger shrink, but now is exactly the time when Newarkers can explore how to make use of blogging and other social media to make a new, more engaged public square.