Future plans for many of the staff are telling about the bleak journalism prospects. Shelly Whitehead, a police reporter, is going to work in internal communications at a hospital, while former Managing Editor Mark Neikirk, a 28-year Post veteran, has signed on to run a project at Northern Kentucky University.
“There is life after journalism,” Neikirk says, but admits, “I liked going to battle everyday in the newsroom.” He says he has still not let himself think about the paper’s eventual end: “It is bad, there have always been two voices in Cincinnati.”
Whitehead, who spoke via cell phone while working her beat at a local police station, said she is glad to get out of news because the industry has strayed from storytelling into “quick, constant updating.” “There is a kind of gallow’s humor going on now,” she said of the newsroom atmosphere. “It is hard to take; everyone who works at this paper is so incredibly proud of it.”
Luke Saladin, who has been at the paper six years and is president of the local Newspaper Guild, is also leaving the business to study engineering at the University of Kentucky. “We all had so much warning, it is not a big surprise,” he says of the shutdown. But he admits that seeing employees walk off with books and other newsroom items, at the paper’s request, is strange. “They are telling people to take what they want,” he says.
As part of the long goodbye, the Post has been running columns by former staffers with memories of the daily’s past. Among them was one on Tuesday by Barry M. Horstman, who served two tours of duty at the paper in the 1970s and 1990s. Now an assistant managing editor at the Las Vegas Sun, he wrote: “Long before I worked here, I was familiar with the Post’s laudable crusade to rid Cincinnati City Hall of bossism in the 1920’s and in succeeding decades to lift the city’s quality of life in innumerable ways.”