By Robert Hodierne
From AJR, February/March 2009
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Erica Smith has a job as a graphics designer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. At least for now. There are few journalists in America who know as well as Smith how tenuous a steady newspaper job is these days. For the last year and a half, she has spent 10 or 12 hours a week at an old oak table in her sixth-floor loft with her Mac laptop, a bottle of Pepsi and her cat, tallying the fallen: 18 more jobs cut at the Tallahassee Democrat, 15 at the Desert Sun , 13 at the Jackson Sun. And the list goes on and on. Eight at the Visalia Times-Delta, 12 at the Statesman Journal , 125 at the Virginian-Pilot, 60 at the Asheville Citizen-Times. Smith tallied 15,554 newspaper job cuts for 2008, and she was still updating in January. Her research is artfully rendered on a Web page called “paper cuts” and appears to be the only such comprehensive list. “I started out because I was curious about the number of cuts. Now it’s because I have too many friends who’ve been laid off,” says Smith, 32, who got into the newspaper business right after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University.