How about it? Should news managers upset with cuts offer principled resignations? Should those who fret about reinvention just pull out instead of failing? What are the responsibilities of leading a newsroom through change?
I am intrigued by the circumstances of the resignation of Steve Smith as the editor at the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Even though Smith has all the credentials and capabilities to run a newsroom in the digital age (he was a pioneer), he chose to pull away and let someone new step in (his managing editor got the appointment).
He didn't leave in a huff like some others. His reasoning was, well, reasonable; If he'd stayed, his newsroom would have been half its earlier size, and he felt he couldn't do the journalism he wanted to do in the new model. He respected his publisher's obligation to ensure the business sustained, so he didn't quarrel with the judgment to chop more reporters and editors. He gives some reasons in his comments attached to an Online Journalism Review piece.
What bothers me is that there are precious few terrific leaders in our business. Better they stay and make the best of difficult circumstances, help their organizations cope, reassure those staying that they can find new ways to work, and advise their bosses of the best course of action when decisions need to be made.
It's always hard to judge someone else. Circumstances are unique. I just wish he didn't feel he had to do it. Every hand is needed on deck at the moment. While it's true some stay longer than they should and won't embrace change, Smith wasn't one of them.