Long ago I worked at the Patriot Ledger on what we jokingly called the flashlight team. I had been a beat reporter and a general assignment reporter. For a time I was something called a Saturday city editor.
The Ledger was a very good newspaper in those days and the reporters on the news staff were idealistic and commited to excellence. It was a great joy to work there in the 1960s and 1970s. I left in 1981.
It’s not that the Ledger has deteriorated – it was a financial question.
When I began at the Ledger, it was owned by the Low family. The family owned the paper for 160 years before it was sold to a publically held corporation. I didn’t work there at the time of the sale. But I did work there as the operation moved from being a patriarchial culture to being a business that concentrated on the bottom line.
Now there is nothing wrong with an emphasis on keeping a business in the black ink.
But the very first thing that impressed me about the company was that in the 1960s when a long-term reporter named Percy Lane was slowly dying of cancer, he was kept on the payroll. He was paid without working for a full year before he died. The family treated its staff very well.
Of course, a business can only do that when there is enough money.