“The days of journalism being held publicly by Wall Street should be over.”

From a New York Times story, by Marc Tracy, headlined “Reporters Make a Plea: Please Buy Our Paper”:

On a cold Chicago morning last month, Gary Marx, a veteran investigative reporter, took his dog for a walk and then strolled over to the affluent Lincoln Park neighborhood. After being buzzed into the courtyard of a large house, he hand-delivered a letter urging the intended recipient to buy—or at least invest in—Mr. Marx’s journalistic home of more than three decades, The Chicago Tribune.

“It’s one thing to put your name on a museum,” Mr. Marx said, summarizing the contents of the letter in an interview, “but this is to save an institution that really safeguards this city.”. . .

Their attempts to woo new investors are unusual in an industry that has traditionally tried to keep business and journalism separate.

“It was not that long ago that it would have been unusual to publicly campaign for a change of ownership,” Ann Marie Lipinski, a former Chicago Tribune editor in chief and the curator of Harvard’s Nieman Center for Journalism, said in an interview. “What you’re seeing in Chicago is a very different approach: journalists dissatisfied with leaving business decisions to the business side, trying to have significant impact on the future of their companies.”. . .

It is certainly not news that the newspaper business is in trouble. Its onetime profit center, print advertising, has declined sharply as readers increasingly prefer to get the news on screens.

The finance industry, looking at newspapers as distressed assets with hidden value, has swooped in, scooping up struggling publications, cutting their staffs and wringing them for profits. . . .

Newsroom employees at The Arizona Republic, a daily belonging to the supersize version of Gannett that came into being after the merger with GateHouse Media, voted to become unionized in October. Steve Benson, a Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist who was laid off a year ago, designed a logo for the Arizona Republic Guild featuring a saguaro cactus with a No. 2 pencil in place of a trunk.

Maribel Wadsworth, the publisher of Gannett and USA Today, said in an interview that, as a former reporter, she sympathized with the journalists—“seeking that sense of security is an understandable path,” she said — but expressed skepticism about the organizing effort.

“Unions are not going to be the driver of revenue growth or subscription growth, or change the challenges the industry has faced,” she said.

Several Republic journalists said they hoped to achieve greater job security and opportunities for career advancement. They also sounded loftier aims that have been invoked in newsrooms across the country.

“The days of journalism being held publicly by Wall Street should be over,” said Rebekah L. Sanders, the consumer protection reporter at The Republic who helped lead the union drive. “We have a public service mission, which used to be propped up by crazy ad margins. That’s all gone, so “we need to make a transition in our business model.”

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