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Archive for July 14th, 2006

And the ink gets redder and redder …

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The numbers are in, and it’s been another miserable quarter of declining earnings for newspaper companies.

It’s not good news for the Tribune Co., down 62 percent from a year before; Media General, down 47 percent; and Gannett, down 8.3 percent. McClatchy stayed even, but circulation declined 4.4 percent. The New York Times Co. plans to report earnings next week.

The reasons? The usual suspects: rising (up 12 percent from last year) newsprint costs, increasing shift of advertising from print to the web, and something the NYT story called a “weak operating environment.”

So what will the CEOs do? The Trib execs plan to cut $200 million in costs. Says CEO Dennis J. FitzSimons, Tribune’s chairman and chief executive:

Let me stress that there’s more to this plan than just cutting costs. We intend to redeploy resources, to reinvest for growth in interactive, as well as in our newspapers and targeted print products. [emphasis added]

Bullshit. Aside from the vagueness in Fitz’ statement, it’s just bullshit.

These companies don’t know how to be innovative. They’ve proven that by ignoring that their best product — news — has been diluted by so many job cuts. They can “redeploy” as much as they wish, but until they return to producing news people will read — either in print or online — their advertising revenue will continue to evaporate.

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 14, 2006 at 4:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A plea for journalistic “courage”

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Writing in the summer issue of Neiman Reports, Washington Post veteran reporter Walter Pincus says:

A new element of courage in journalism would be for editors and reporters to decide not to cover the President’s statements when he — or any public figure — repeats essentially what he or she has said before.

It’s a wonderful read. He makes the argument on several levels, decrying the current tendencies toward repetitively running “talking points” stories that act solely as PR for both government bureaucrats and legislators.

But I disagree that “new” courage is needed. Bring back the “old” courage of reporters and editors who knew what news was — and wasn’t — and acted accordingly.

See Pincus’ piece here.

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 14, 2006 at 12:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized