New York Daily News: A death of a thousand cuts
They are killing the New York Daily News, and with it, journalism dies a little more.
Monday was a terribly sad day for me, my colleagues, for freedom of the press and especially for New York City.
“If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you,” tweeted Jim Rich, the Daily News Editor in Chief that was fired along with 50 percent of his staff. And then he signed off with this sad but unfortunately accurate note: “Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction.”
Yes, it is a real tragedy that Tronc, the former Tribune Company, which had bought the 99-year-old New York institution for $1 in September, had just gutted the proud newspaper laying off at least half of its editorial staff last Monday — to cut costs.
For me, it is personal. It is a tragedy that touches me deeply because I worked at the Daily News for 21 productive, creative and, yes, fun years.
“I’ll tell you what’s in the Daily News,” wrote New York Times columnist David González in a Facebook post. “The NY Daily News was the paper I grew up with. It was a solid, working class tab, with attitude and dazzling photography. I have had friends - and competitors - there: Patrice O’Shaughnessy, Albor Ruiz, Linda Rozier, Ralph Ortega, Eddie Borges, Jim Dwyer, Ruben Rosario, Carolina Gonzalez and Juan Gonzalez, among them.
“The death of a thousand cuts to which it has been subjected - including the use of lame stock photos and the gutting of its borough buros- does a grave disservice not just to its many talented journalists, but to the residents of New York City.”
Tronc’s decision not only affects the lives of some of the most dedicated and talented people in the business, it is also an attack on local watchdog journalism in the nation's media capital and its largest city. With the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal — which together with Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post are the other three New York dailies — drastically shrinking their metro sections, the Daily News played an invaluable role with its hard-hitting coverage of local news.
As National Public Radio reported, just last year “the Daily News won a Pulitzer Prize, its 11th, with ProPublica, for its exposure of how the New York Police Department used an obscure civil enforcement law to evict hundreds of poor people from their homes without their being able to challenge the move first. The paper has also made a meal of the Donald Trump presidency from the populist left, depicting the New York-based real estate developer, long familiar to readers of its gossip pages, as a malevolent, autocratic and cartoonish figure.”
In place of Rich, Tronc appointed, Robert York, who was the editor and publisher of another, much smaller Tronc paper, the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call.
A Daily News reader had these questions for York and for Tronc: “Questions the new internet compilers for NYDN won’t be able to answer. Where the 59th street & Triboro bridges are. How to pronounce Houston St. Why no one is a Mets AND Yankees fan and why everyone in NYC knew Trump was a con man (including Rudy Giuliani)."
No one can answer these questions like the Daily News that was sentenced - again - to die a slow, agonizing death at the hands of naked greed because no one knows the city or cares about it and its diverse people like the friends and colleagues that were just let go by the Chicago-based company.
So many stories, so many friends, so much talent, so much love for the profession. That’s what the Daily News means for me. And that’s why the gutting of the storied New York institution is such a terrible blow to a free press at a time when it is more important than ever.