Big Newspapers Continue Layoffs
The trend toward smaller staffs continues at even the biggest newspapers. Here are some stories from my Media feed that I missed in the last couple of days:
- New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. tells his stockholders’ meeting that he’s doing everything he can to turn around stock prices that make “none of us happy” but points out that the “new online marketplace has dramatically increased competition, expanded markets, lowered barriers of entry and reduced prices for hundreds of business sectors.” CEO Janet Robinson adds that, “Between staff reductions and relocating some departments to less expensive office space, we are now leasing out five floors that we had planned to use. This represents one-fifth of our space and, at current market rates, provides meaningful cash flow to our Company.” – Wall Street Journal
- “The Denver Post on Monday extended voluntary-buyout offers to about 90 newsroom workers in a move aimed at trimming costs amid an industrywide downturn. The Post will accept as many as 37 buyouts by early June. The paper currently has about 268 workers in its newsroom.” – Denver Post
- “[T]he [Los Angeles]Times offers a buyout to most employees and will take 150. Long-term employees can receive up to a year’s pay. An unstated number of positions, vacant and filled, are being eliminated.” – LA Observed
- The Chicago Tribune has “already achieved significant compensation savings through attrition” but forsees a “need to reduce actual staffing by up to 100 employees across all departments. These reductions will occur through a combination of involuntary position eliminations and a voluntary separation program.” – Poynter
The papers are slowly adapting to the Web and several of them are offsetting some of the revenue decline in their print editions via leveraging their online content. Unfortunately, the growing pains are brutal.
At the same time, putting out a physical newspaper remains profitable. I asked Politico managing editor Bill Nichols the other night why the startup even bothered with a paper, given that they launched mostly as a Web entity, and he said it made good business sense to do so because advertising in the print editions more than offsets the considerable expense of printing and distribution.
I called this a couple of weeks ago when you posted on the Trib “citizen journalism” nonsense. Given the fact that they are cutting actual journalists, it makes the whole enterprise suspect.
“The papers are slowly adopting to the Web”
If the major newspapers continue to put out the same tripe that brought them to the current situation, it may only help hasten their demise.
I am not not trying to be a wise ass here, but could you tell me if “actual journalists” who had been at the Trib since its inception are not in some way responsible for the the loss of public trust, therefore leading to declining revenues. A few weeks of “citizen journalism” is not responsible for a newspaper abandoning objective reporting and responsible editorializing.
Quite frankly, I have had enough of new-age journalist and ill-informed editors who are out to change the world and neglect the responsibilities of bringing us the news.
Does anybody know the history of newspapers as/components of publicly-traded companies? I ask sincerely, for information. My intuition is that we’ve only seen that for the last 40 years or so and that the earnings potential of newspapers may be over-estimated. More than offsets the considerable expense of printing and distribution may not be adequate to meet investors’ income expectations.