A Big Loss

We're coming to the end of one doozy of a year.

Everyone knows it's been a rough year for those of us who toil in the newspaper business, but I had no idea how rough it has truly been until I read Joe Strupp's list of the Top 10 2009 newspaper-business stories at editorandpublisher.com.

The No. 1 story on his list was the fact that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 40,000 newspaper jobs were eliminated in 2009. Strupp pointed out that this number doesn't include newspaper employees whose hours were cut or who were forced into unpaid furloughs.

Then he goes on to make this stunning statement: "The count (of people employed by newspapers) at the end of 2009 is 284,220 jobs. In 1999, that number was at 424,500."

That's a shocking—and horrifying—statistic to someone who, like me, thinks that newspapers (be them in print or online) are vital to an informed and functioning society. The loss of one-third of all the newspaper jobs in the United States is not good for our democracy, folks.

Oh, and one more thing: Joe Strupp himself may wind up without a job as of the end of the year, as Nielsen Business Media, which owns Editor and Publisher, has announced tentative plans to close the venerable trade magazine at the end of 2009.

I wish I could say I knew how to fix the newspaper industry as a whole, but I don't. All I know is that here at the Tucson Weekly, we'll be around for a while, and we remain committed to doing the best we can to keep Southern Arizona informed, intrigued and entertained.

Happy holidays, everyone.

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