Editor’s notebook: Newspapers, and the last kid in the bushes

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I interrupted a game of hide-and-seek when I went to pick up my daughter last week. Upon my arrival, her scrum of friends raced into the house to gather her things while I stood in the driveway waiting.

Then I heard a rustling from a large shrub, and a thin voice came from within.

“Hey guys?” it said, uncertainly. “We still playing hide-and-seek?”

I had cramped up laughing by the time the poor kid rustled his way out of the bush, the last boy in the yard, and this 12-year-old kid looked at me like I was some kind of jerkwad. Which, of course, I was.

I thought about it for days afterwards. Why was that so funny? I settled on the notion that we’ve all been in that position, literally or figuratively — the last kids in the bush, the ones the game left behind.

As I’m writing this column on Monday night, I’m starting to feel a lot like my daughter’s friend, the one who thinks I’m a jerk.

The final numbers from the layoffs at the News & Record and the Journal have come in: 36 staffers gone in Greensboro, 14 in Winston-Salem. Fifty good people who were reminded today that a daily newspaper can’t love you back.

I suspected as much back in 2013, before we started Triad City Beat, when a job at a more staid publication was something I was considering.

I decided I’d rather gamble on myself and my team than take my chances at another corporate paper, the purpose of which is still to grind as much copy out of its reporters it can get for the least amount of money.

And while we’re not naïve enough to believe that what we’ve created is capable of loving us back, it sure feels like it sometimes.

Meanwhile BH Media has had two rounds of layoffs since TCB began in 2014. Right now, at the time we need them most, there are fewer real reporters covering the Triad than at any time this century.

It’s times like these that my colleagues and I — who still have the privilege and honor of working in this profession — start to feel like the kid in the bushes, wondering where the hell everyone has gone.

Hey guys? That whole Fourth Estate thing? Truth to power? Feet to the fire? We’re still doing that, right?