Posts Tagged ‘the Tribune Corporation’

 

Reductions At The Courant

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Someone just passed a memo to me, no more than an hour old, from the publisher of the Hartford Courant to his staff. News pages will go from 273 to 206 per week. Subscribers will only be getting 75% of what they get now in quantity. The newsroom will go from 232 to 175. The reduction there is also to 75% of current levels. There will be voluntary buyouts and forced layoffs.

All this comes on the heels of the heavily leveraged purchase of the Tribune Corporation, the Courant’s owner, by Sam Zell. It’s a sad day for journalism, for print media, for Connecticut.

There is little public support for newspapers or print in general. The problem is, newspapers still perform an extremely valuable service. No one else provides the depth of reportage papers do.

The Courant’s memo follows after the jump.

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Valuing News By The Pound

Monday, June 9th, 2008

As hard as economic times are for TV, they’re worse for newspapers and other print outlets.

So, what do you do to get the bottom line up? I don’t know, but I suspect it isn’t this. Here’s a story from The International Herald Tribune. Michaels is Randy Michaels, CEO of the Tribune Corporation, now owned by Sam Zell, and heavily in debt.

…the struggling company has looked at the column inches of news produced by each reporter, and by each paper’s news staff. Finding wide variation, they said, they have concluded that it could do without a large number of news employees and not lose much content.

Michaels said that, after measuring journalists’ output, “when you get into the individuals, you find out that you can eliminate a fair number of people while eliminating not very much content.” He added that he understood that some reporting jobs naturally produce less output than others.

He said that The Los Angeles Times produced 51 pages of news for each journalist there, while the figure for two other Tribune papers, The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant, is more than 300 pages.

Michaels had been CEO of Clear Channel Communications. When he left there, Radio Ink reported:

…industry message boards were swollen with vitriolic postings vilifying both him and Clear Channel. Various diatribes claimed that Michaels was everything from “the antichrist of Radio” to “a blight on professionalism” to “representative of the heinous crimes perpetrated by Clear Channel.”

Today, it seems Michaels is valuing content the way a butcher values meat – by the pound. But in the real world content is not equal word-for-word. You would hope some of the LA Times lower word count has to do with the depth its stories contain.

It will be sad to see newspapers disappear. I’m afraid that’s going to happen… and sooner, rather than later.

Right now, TV is incapable of providing the depth and story count papers do (though TV kills print in immediacy, emotion and a number of other categories). Few of the Internet news sites really produce their own content, and those that do seldom produce local news.

My daughter and her generation don’t read many newspapers nor do they watch much TV news. No one has yet figured out how to make traditional news more attractive to them.

It’s all very sad.