Monday September 15 , 2014
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Branding

In Detroit, I’ve watched the newspapers cut deliveries to three days a week and lay off my friends and former colleagues. And across the nation, pink slips are flying and more journalists are unemployed or underemployed.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Since 2001, newspapers have lost nearly 10,000 journalists. While Latinos, Asians and Native Americans have made staffing gains in that time, the share of African-Americans has dropped 18.3%.

In this decade, minority staffing in television has remained flat and, in radio, has dropped nearly 4% over the decade.

It’s clear that we can no longer depend on our jobs because traditional news media can’t pay us enough or provide us the job security to justify demanding exclusive rights to our talents. Each of us must become a “brand,” producing specialized content and services and creating multiple sources of income for ourselves. At the same time, we’d play a vital as singular talents with major roles in reshaping how news is delivered in America.

That’s entrepreneurship. I spent most of my career in business news—from the Lexington Herald-Leader to the Courier-Journal to the St. Petersburg Times to the Wall Street Journal—and I know the value of owning one’s own product. It's no longer "either/or"—whether to work for someone else or ourselves. The news industry, which is now divided into niches filled by specialists, and our personal financial futures demand that we do both.