“Newspapers confront tall, menacing seas in the coming year,” writes the New York Times’ David Carr today, “but it is a sure bet that the ones that dump the ablest hands on deck will be among the first to sink below the waves.”

Writes Carr:

Every day, Romenesko… is rife with news of layoffs at newspapers, most of the time featuring some important, trusted names. It is not the young fresh faces that are getting whacked — they come cheap — but themost experienced, proven people in the room, the equivalent of the sales clerk who could walk you through a thicket of widescreen television choices to the one that actually works for you.

Using clerks as an analogue may not be the most flattering comparison, but I have always thought of journalism as more craft than profession and tell students that it is the accumulation of experience and technique that makes a journalist valuable, not some ineffable beckoning of the muse.

Carr also cites two people who heard Sam Zell, of the Tribune Company, speak at a conference last week, and “were appalled by [Zell’s] disregard for his newspapers” and Zell’s suggestion “that newsrooms were just so much overhead and that what was ailing the industry was overweening journalistic ambition.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.