FBLA Checks in with Erica Smith


So we caught up with our friend, journalist Erica Smith, whom we have dubbed the Newsroom Angel of Death, because she has watched over the industry as it wheezes and hacks documenting it with a nifty little Google map.

Someone has to do it.

FBLA: How’s the site going and do you see the bottom anytime soon? Is it going to get worse?

ES: When I started this blog I never thought I’d see 10,000 layoffs and buyouts industrywide. Now I can almost look back fondly on that number. It’s up to 13,099. I have a list of updates that need to be made and rumors to track down, so by the end of the day it’ll be higher. That doesn’t include layoffs being made companywide at Gannett Co. papers, about 3,000 jobs by many estimates. And another 400 at Scripps papers. And those chains aren’t alone — I think some others will be making more cuts before the end of the year. Right now, I think we could be lucky to not reach 20,000. I fear it’s still going to get worse before it gets better.

FBLA: We can’t have a democracy without a free press and we can’t have a free press without paying them — so what’s in store for the future?

ES: I wish I knew. Already independent blogs have started to fill some of the void and catch some stories that newspapers and main stream media are missing, but they can’t do it all. And there’s always accountability to look at.

FBLA: And do you count bloggers on your map?

ES: I’ve only been counting newspapers (and their bloggers) so far. I’ve had requests to start blogs/maps for other media, including TV, Canadian newspapers and European newspapers. I’m not sure I can keep up with all of it, but I might try to add one next year.

FBLA: How are you?

ES: I’m still employed, knock on wood. Some days it’s more difficult to remain optimistic than others, though.

Our previous interviews with Ms. Smith are here and here.

And if you really want to depress yourself, check out what the screen grab of the map looked like on Memorial Day this year.