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Helping Journalists Take the Jump

An organization called The Jump aims to assist veteran journalists who've left the daily newspapers, as well as those who fear the end is near.

Several Jump attendees remain daily employees but appear to be exploring an exit strategy. Ensslin doesn't fit this category; he sat in on the meetings, but emphasizes that he's very satisfied at the Rocky. Nevertheless, he's pleased to report that a couple of attendees have found employment, and even if The Jump wasn't directly responsible, their accomplishments provide hope to those stuck in search mode. As Hartman points out, "There's certainly life, and work, after journalism."


Letter from the editor: Most media members are very careful about what they put in e-mails to people they don't know, because their comments could wind up anywhere: on a blog, on a message board, in a column like this one. But not long ago, in an exchange with a would-be contributor, R Kelly Liggin, editor in chief of the University of Colorado Denver Advocate, let it rip in an exchange that brims with the sort of snarkiness lotsa editors dream of unleashing.

A few months back, the Advocate inaugurated "Take Your Best Shot," a feature for which readers were asked to send in photographs of interest along with thirty- to fifty-word descriptions. Student Brian Farrell accepted this invitation, snapping what he describes as "a particular piece of art on a concrete support beam that had caught my eye a few months before — a depiction of the self-immolation of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk." When the photo wasn't published, Farrell contacted the paper, and after trading notes with a photo editor, he began to wonder if the submission had been nixed for political reasons. In truth, Liggin says, the quality of the photo wasn't nearly as strong as the subject matter, and after a couple of back-and-forths with an accusatory Farrell, he let his feelings fly.

"While I appreciate your pointed and, frankly, caustic interest in the Advocate, I do not have time for and will not make time for entertaining every crank that has an issue with our issues," Liggin wrote. "If your picture didn't run, it's likely because, for one reason or another, it sucked. Period. Is that a judgment call? Absolutely. Welcome to the publishing business. Those with their names on the masthead make judgment-based decisions. Every single day. If you feel neglected by this process, cope. Meanwhile I have a paper to run. If you need a shoulder to cry on, I invite you from this point forward to take your concerns to my board of advisors. They will not want to hear from you, but there you go."

"Take Your Best Shot" was subsequently discontinued for a lack of interest. "I couldn't even get my friends to send in pictures," Liggin says. "That's how unpopular it was." As for his ultra-direct response to Farrell, Liggin doesn't regret it in the slightest. "I think the attitude was appropriate at that point," he maintains. "I'm sure my advisors would have their own opinions about that, but so long as my name is on the masthead, I'll run the show my way."

Editors everywhere would love to say the same thing.

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