Rocky Mountain News vet Gil Rudawsky: Old newspaper days were great, now they blow

Journalists these days inevitably know lotsa former journalists, many of whom seem happier than those still employed in the profession.

That appears to be the case with former Rocky Mountain News staffer Gil Rudawsky, whose new blog post about making the leap from newspapering to public relations admits to nostalgia for the old days but no mistiness at all for the more recent ones.

Rudawsky, whose essay was highlighted on Jim Romenesko's web site, is currently senior director of communications for Ground Floor Media -- a gig he seems to cherish all the more when he compares it to the current print world.

When asked whether he misses journalism at a meeting not so long ago, Rudawsky writes that he initially stumbled over his answer before realizing the truth: "I miss journalism from twenty years ago, when reporters had the time and resources to pursue good stories, and when our audiences expected nothing less."

Does he also miss "the journalism world of the last five years?" Two words: "No way."

Rudawsky elaborates in the following passage:

The thrill of being in a vibrant newsroom was great for the first 15 years, but during the last five years, my career basically stalled as the industry retracted and the excitement waned. I continued to gain valuable 'change management' experience, and first-hand experience of the changing media landscape, but the mantra of 'smarter, not harder' really meant working much harder with fewer resources.

Despite Pulitzer Prize triumphs and rising web numbers, the Rocky closed in 2009 -- and the experience of going down with the ship convinced Rudawsky that he should book passage elsewhere. "I didn't have any idea what my future held, but I did know for sure that I was not going to stay in journalism," he notes. "I knew all too well that the profession was going to continue to hemorrhage, and I didn't want to relive the experience."

After some initial freelance struggles, Rudawsky landed on the Ground Floor, as it were, and he's come to realize that PR isn't "the dark side," as journalists tend to view it. Indeed, he makes the profession seem almost too attractive. After all, if every journalist takes up public relations, who'll be left for PR pros to pitch?

To read Rudawsky's entire essay, posted on Ragan's PR Daily, click here.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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