If I had not retired 14 years ago, I would now be preparing to move into a new building for the fourth time.
When I went to work for the Jacksonville Journal at Church and Laura streets, the Russians were about to put the world’s first satellite into orbit and federal troops were escorting kids to school.
At that time newspapers dominated the media. TV was just developing local news operations that provided significant competition.
Nearly two years later the Journal was bought by the Florida Times-Union and we moved to 400 W. Adams St.
In 1967 we moved again, to One Riverside Ave., in a large, brand new building. Two buildings actually.
Soon the paper, greatly reduced in size and relevance, is moving to the second floor of the old Independent Life building, now called the Wells Fargo building.
One floor, consisting of 27,000 square feet.
It won’t have presses. They don’t even print a paper here anymore. Somehow, it is more economical to print 40,000 plus papers in Gainesville every day and truck them to Jacksonville for distribution.
Fortunately, the newsroom reporters voted to form a union recently. So perhaps they can file a grievance about their new quarters, or go on strike.
When I retired, it was clear newspapers were in trouble. Turns out the real competition was not TV but the internet, which came along in the ‘90s.
Grasping at straws, newspaper defenders tried to argue that people preferred to hold a piece of paper in their hands. That was ridiculous on its face, since you could always print a Web page if you wanted to.
They continued to defend the abandonment of objective journalism, too. But that was perhaps the greatest threat newspapers faced, and it was all self-imposed.
I’ve never been one for making predictions but it appears that newspapers will become extinct, like the stagecoach manufacturing industry.
But we had a good run for a long time. When we tried to provide people with unadorned facts about things that mattered to them, and clearly labeled opinions backed up with facts, it was rewarding and we were rewarded.
Tempus fugit. Or perhaps, ars longa, vita brevis.