Sentinel Editor Complains About Those Who 'Dance On Newspapers' Graves'

Just because I haven't seen this published anywhere else, I'm putting up this message from Tribune Co.'s Randy Michaels regarding Orlando Sentinel Editor Charlotte Hall's farewell speech as president of the American Society of News Editors.

It's an okay speech, but who are these "pundits" she's talking about? And why is she whining about them? 

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Sent: Tue 4/28/2009 2:06 PM
Subject: Message from Randy Michaels/Observations from Charlotte Hall

Charlotte Hall, the SVP/Editor of the Orlando Sentinel, just completed her term as president of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). As she departed, Charlotte took a moment to reflect on the state of the newspaper industry in a note to ASNE members. Her note is posted on the ASNE web site and pasted in below.

Charlotte's observations have a good deal of resonance as we move forward with change across Tribune. I hope you'll take a moment to read the note and join me in congratulating Charlotte on her service as ASNE president.

Randy

Thank you from Charlotte Hall to ASNE members

Charlotte H. Hall
2008-09 ASNE President

Dear ASNE friends:

As I end my year as ASNE's president, I want to thank you for your support and guidance. I have been honored to serve as your president. Along with this note, you will find my report to the

 ASNE board on an extraordinary year. In Marty Kaiser, ASNE will have a new president with passion and energy. I will help him in any way I can.

If I were to give the usual speech at our convention, I would talk first of the tremendous respect, admiration and affection I have for all of you. Your courage and tenacity are inspirational. The strength I draw from you has enabled me to fight for the organization whose values I cherish.

I end my ASNE year both hopeful and angry. Many, in and out of our industry, are working hard to envision new models to support journalism. I cheer them on. But I am angry at the pundits who would dance on newspapers' graves. Their anti-newspaper vitriol disrespects the work being done by journalists in newsrooms all over America.

These pundits take delight in telling us we are failures. Yet truth be told, the vast majority of local public interest journalism--the watchdog stories, the investigations, the coverage of city hall and the school board, the stories with impact on public policy--is still being done in newspaper newsrooms. And that is why thoughtful people are frightened about the perilous state of newspapers. They know that the loss of every journalist is a loss for democracy. And that is why we must fight on.

Hope has been hard to come by lately, no doubt about it. We have had to say farewell to storied newspapers and talented journalists. And yet I see hope popping up like the brave flowers of spring that rise from frigid ground. I see it in our huge and growing audience--our Web audience is up more than 10 percent in a year, Nielsen reported last week. I see it in the digital skills of our staffs. I see it in the transformation of our newsrooms to digital information centers that also produce a print newspaper. I see it in our ability to engage people through social media. I see it in creation of online communities hosted by our newsrooms. I see it in the redesign of our print papers. I see it in the undiminished commitment to public service journalism.

At this point, I feel like giving the Winston Churchill finale about fighting on the beaches and never giving up. But you are already doing that. You are battling on every front, not for yourself and not for your company, but for the journalists you lead and the communities you serve.

Journalism is being reborn. How painful! How exciting! None of us knows what it will look like in three, four, five, years. But we do know it will be alive and kicking because we will not, and cannot, fail.

Thank you for your friendship. You are the unsung heroes of journalism. Lead on.

Best wishes,
Charlotte


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