Yesterday was an uneasy day for employees at the San Diego Union-Tribune as a private Equity firm out of L.A. bought the paper for an undisclosed sum. The higher-ups were nice enough to let me come and shoot a staff meeting announcing the plans (for Getty). I have to say it was a bit awkward having to photograph so many friends and comrades. Even know I am not on staff, I’ve freelanced for the U-T for over 10 years and have forged a tight bond with photogs, writers, you name it. I sometimes I had to pinch myself to remind me this meeting didn’t involve me. The atmosphere was cautiously optimistic which seems to be the way most staffers are living these days. It’s almost as if nothing can shock them anymore. As long as they wake employed, that’s about all that matters.
I sure hope, for this industry’s sake, we find a solution to this mess we’re in. Not only because of the hardship’s of losing a job, but because the overall morale in the newsroom is at such a low-point. We need to get out there start digging for stories again instead of having the added stress of job security. Seems like a few short years ago, we were all psyched when we got that great shot at 6 columns on A-1, we were in constant search of the next great story, we had that friendly competitive thing going on with our rivals, and we strived to get our portfolios good enough to take to the next level. Today, much of that has been put on hold.
A question was asked during the meeting in regards to the equity company possibly buying the paper and selling it off or trying to flip it. The editor replied that the company believed newspapers would EVENTUALLY return to profitability and was confident the U-T would return to its’ glory days. Like I said, “cautiously optimistic” It’s all we have to go on.