Next week, I’ll report to you some of the great lessons and tips I picked up at the annual conference of the Society of Professional Journalists. That occurred earlier this week in Las Vegas.

But as long as we’re both here, and it’s Change of Venue Friday, let me share one small indicator of the state of the journalism today. As you may have heard, it ain’t great.

First, I should tell you that a number of people tweeting at this week’s conference found spirits high. It was nothing like the angst that descended on the 2006 convention, one correspondent said.

Well, perhaps, but I was brought up short in the exhibition hall. It is not altogether odd to see the occasional booth space unsold, at any convention. But to have a space labeled with a company name, but empty, means a tough decision had to be made after the space had already been purchased.

The Celebrity Ballroom in Planet Hollywood was a pretty busy place. That made Booth 10 look even more out of place. So what underfunded little mom-and-pop exhibitor decided at the last minute to forego their space investment and stay home?

It was Gannett.

Here are a few photos.

Every journalist strolling the hall must have gulped when they saw that the behemoth couldn’t rouse the budget pennies to send a few hearty souls to the biggest journalism trade conference in the country.

Is that angst in your pocket, or are you just sorry to see me?

When I returned and fired up my computer, one of the first stories I came across was a Gannett tale of woe.

The AP story reported that USA Today, a Gannett paper, was cutting 35 positions. That’s USA Today, the paper that nearly invented the short-attention span—even they are discovering that readers find those little ink words and colorful chartlets too demanding. You can read the whole story here.

It’s enough to make the editor of a niche-y association magazine—Arizona Attorney—breathe a sigh of relief.

Have a great weekend.