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Out of Nowhere summary

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Due to the economic pressures of the digital era and media consolidation, the demise of the traditional newsroom was well underway before the COVID-19 pandemic. Writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, journalist Ruth Margalit describes how the pandemic accelerated the process. The pandemic moved print and broadcast news staffers rapidly to remote work. But virtual reporting offers unique challenges – especially for novice reporters without existing sources and networks. Despite its pitfalls, remote work creates opportunities for talented people who might not have snagged newsroom jobs, thus expanding the diversity of reporting.

About the Author

Ruth Margalit began her career at Haaretz and served as international news desk editor for Channel 10 News in Israel. She has been on the editorial staff at The New Yorker since 2011.   

Summary

News organizations were struggling before the pandemic. COVID-19 made many close their newsrooms and switch to remote work.

To save money, The Baltimore Sun moved its newsroom from its storied downtown building to a remote waterfront development. Alden Global Capital, a notorious hedge fund owned the majority of the Sun and instituted draconian furloughs, buyouts and layoffs. In March 2020, the Sun abruptly told employees the newsroom was closing until further notice and they’d be working remotely. The Sun’s sister publications in five Maryland and Pennsylvania cities closed their newsrooms.

Many other newspapers experienced similar trajectories. Vanishing profits from the loss of ad, subscription and sales income had prompted a wave of news bureau closures and widespread consolidation of news organizations. Reuters made all 2,500 members of its breaking news staff remote in March. In July, its corporate parent, another hedge fund – Chatham Asset Management – closed seven papers’ newsrooms permanently. In August, the Gannett newspaper chain announced its...


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