From Editor and Publisher

Until the past few years, a reporter at The New York Times was the journalism equivalent of a federal judge—you had found your job for life. Nobody, but nobody left The Gray Lady for another journalism job unless they were pushed or got a huge promotion at another esteemed paper.

This past year, however, The Times has resembled a small-market Major League Baseball team with a lot of talent that is being pickpocketed by the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers. But the big-money teams picking off print journalism’s free agents have names such as Yahoo, Politico and Bleacher Report.

A Times senior editor left to become executive editor of Politico. The Times popular tech columnist is working on Yahoo’s new tech site. And Howard Beck, for nine years the New York Knicks beat writer, left to become one of the four new NBA writers hired by Bleacher Report.

“I thought I was there for life,” Beck told me. “I can honestly say I was never looking to leave. Nine weeks ago. Never even. I revere the institution and I enjoyed working there.”

From a newspaper editor or publisher’s standpoint, this could be the latest in a string of Internet Insults. First the Internet stole our readers. Then it took our advertising revenue. Now it’s coming for our talent. Although The New York Times is the most visible evidence of talented journalists choosing the digital domain over the one with ink and paper, the roots of this trend go deeper.

What journalist stands before a class of college students these days advocating a career in newspapers? What top-of-the class student sets his or her sights on the local newsroom after graduation? It’s clear that many of the best in the business are leaving after they get to newsrooms and many of the best young ones are never getting to print newsrooms.

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