The era in which I have spent 45 years of full-time writing and editing is slowly disappearing as three more contemporaries go not so quietly into the night.
Murray McCormick is retiring after 38 years at the Regina Leader-Post and 43 years overall in the business, and Steve Buffery is taking a buyout after 38 years at the Toronto Sun, even more in the business.
After nearly 58 years in newspapers, Pat Hickey makes all of us seem like rookies, so thanks for that.
I don’t know Hickey personally, but was familiar with his work from afar. He is leaving his job at the Montreal Gazette as Postmedia was making cuts to the newsroom, as so often happens these days.
Hickey could have stayed, but chose instead to leave so a younger editorial employee could remain instead.
It is an admirable goal to leave a business better than you first found it and Hickey is indeed attempting to do that by offering to create a spot for somebody just breaking in with wide-eyed anticipation of what’s ahead.
Hickey, McCormick and Buffery informed, entertained and opined in their own unique styles during their lengthy careers, but their successors face a more uncertain future. That is, if they have successors.
For example, Global recently wiped out its sports department in Edmonton, not the first time a broadcast or print outlet has done that to the point of local sports, provincial championships, etc., being ignored. The home town paper where I live doesn’t even have a local office anymore.
While none of this is news to most people, there’s another factor that may soon change business even more.
It remains to be seen what effect Artificial Intelligence (AI) has on any type of “people” business such as golf in which success is dependent on people’s enjoyment, consistently meeting their expectations and giving them a reason to return.
When media is covering an event such as this week’s Masters, it takes a human to understand a human and a beating heart is needed behind a keyboard when tapping out a story.
Can something with no passion or enjoyment of the game or its people really convey the joy, celebration, disappointment and frustration of sports or make a golfer’s experience that much better during a day at the club?
The future is uncertain and while AI’s effect on business will be downplayed for the time being, so were concerns about the media industry as it progressed to its current state.
Many are concerned, however. AI industry executives are calling for a six-month break in developing more powerful systems, citing potential risks to society. Some are calling for even longer.
There’s more to understanding something than research and development. There is also the long-term effect impact it has on humans and that, at this point, is uncertain.
AI is emerging technology and it’s long-term effects are unknown, be it ethics, human rights and, quite likely, the loss of more jobs in many businesses.
Those of us at or near the end of our careers hope the young people breaking in now also reach the same stage of their careers. If only we could guarantee that would happen.