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Digging into a hole instead of out …

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Profitability pressures have Tribune Co. newspapers whacking newsroom staffs again.

The Los Angeles Times will lose 85 newsroom positions, about 8 percent of the newsroom staff. The flagship Chicago Tribune will lose 100 employees spread across all departments.

Small Trib properties are taking hits, too. The Daily Press of Newport News, Va., will eliminate eight jobs, four in the newsroom. Eighteen other unfilled jobs were cut. The Allentown, Pa., Morning Call will offer buyouts to cut a dozen from the advertising and editorial staffs.

And, according to the E&P story, “The [Baltimore] Sun said it would cut 75 jobs, or 5 percent of its work force, with 12 to 15 expected to come from the newsroom. In September, Newsday, the Tribune Co.’s dominant daily newspaper on Long Island, said it would reduce its coverage of New York City and cut 45 positions from its newsroom staff.”

This is insane.

From a memo by Hartford Courant publisher Jack Davis

I regret that we will have to experience additional job reductions in the coming weeks — through attrition, leaving open positions unfilled, voluntary separations and layoffs — totaling about 25 positions.

A similar step toward reducing expenses for 2006 occurred in early October, with job eliminations affecting 14 employees. However, given ongoing competitive media pressure and disappointing financial results, we need to achieve additional expense reductions if we are to remain as strong as possible in 2006 and beyond. As you have probably noticed, other Tribune newspapers are taking similar steps. [emphasis added]

For these Trib properties and other newspaper organizations whacking away staff to reduce costs to maintain profit margins, just what does “strong as possible” mean?

It certainly can’t mean a strong, improved product, because the cuts erode the ability to enhance or expand the product. It can’t mean increase the number of advertisers and frequency of ads, because ad staffs are being slashed, too.

Let’s start the poll now, kiddies: How much longer will pass before this business model leaves media conglomerates with significant newspaper holdings in the crapper?

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

November 17, 2005 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Why Own a Newspaper, Anyway?
    I am continually disheartened at the growing attitude most corporate media owners show toward their media holdings. Owning a newspaper or radio or TV station is simply NOT the same as owning any other type of company. There is a public responsibility involved that most other businesses don’t have resting on their shoulders.
    For God’s sake, the media is often refered to as the unofficial “fourth branch of government” because of its crucial role in our system of checks-and-balances. What other institution has that kind of responsibility?
    But the corporate greed is getting worse, running newspapers into the ground and turning the airwaves into the Clearchannel Nation. I would’ve thought by now that some suit somewhere would’ve caught on to the fact that this business model hasn’t seemed to be working–if it was, why do they all keep having to slash and burn their newsrooms in response to shrinking readership? If it’s such a great way to do business, why aren’t readers flocking in growing, rather than shrinking, numbers to the papers being produced?
    It goes back to the whole reason why the industry is in trouble: There is a complete lack of vision at the top as to what news really is and what role the media really plays.
    Damn beancounters.
    (Thanks for letting me rant.)

    cwmackowski

    November 19, 2005 at 5:03 am


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