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On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal announced it would close the paper's Boston bureau, where I worked from 2002-2008. As my colleagues, family and friends know, I certainly had my professional ups and downs during those years. After my children were born, I went part-time, and stopped caring as much about being first in the news, and more about being true, which is much harder. I wrote less about the politics of drug pricing and more about things like belly dancing in labor, or how a mom fought back when her baby received abominable medical care. But despite my changing relationship with reporting during those years, there was some amazing journalism committed in the bureau at 10 Post Office Square: Dan Golden's education coverage, for example; James Bandler's stories about the excesses of Jack Welch; David Armstrong's investigative coverage of the medical industry; and Rob Tomsho's Ahed's, the memorable features that ran down the middle of the front page.
The great thing about the Journal — from the moment I started, in Seattle, in 1998 — was that we were given the freedom to go after a good story, and if it was really good, to follow it wherever it took us, for as long as it took. Those days seem to be gone forever.
On Thursday morning, with no warning, reporters received a memo to show up for a 10 am meeting, according to people involved. When they arrived, several executives in suits were in the room and it was impossible not to sense doom. The journalists were told they'd be paid through the end of the year, and would get two weeks severance for every year worked. Then the messengers went back to midtown Manhattan, NewsCorp. headquarters, and nine great reporters were out of work.
On Friday there was a lot of gallows humor in the newsroom, I was told, and one veteran reporter told a younger one: "You're a smart kid. Get out of journalism while you can."
It's probable that neither of them — like so many of us — will ever work again as a reporter for a daily newspaper. But at least, for a while, we got to write for one of the greatest papers in the world.
This program aired on October 31, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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