How do newspapers expect to regain their audiences and relevancy if they keep downsizing the quality and quantity of their content?
Last week the Plain Dealer announced it is cutting 38 editorial positions. Employees have until Nov. 20 to volunteer for the guillotine; if 38 don't volunteer, the paper will choose for them.These layoffs brings to more than 100 the reductions in the PD's unionized news staff since 2006.
The volunteer-or-get-fired method has added an anxious edge to tweets from the editorial staff:
chrisseper: Today is the buyout deadline in the office. Smattering of names so far. Sad nonetheless. A somber day. 03:25 PM October 02, 2008
MichaelMcIntyre: Rainy days and Wednesdays always get me down.Or maybe it's the looming layoffs. 09:08 AM October 08, 2008Boosting short-term profits by cutting quality is obviously a losing strategy, points out Dan Conover at Xark in an excellent post titled 10 reasons why newspapers won't reinvent news.
My favorite points, in brief:
2. The culture of newspaper management is a dysfunctional relic of a low-bandwidth, monopoly era.
4. No budget for research, development or training means most newspapers can't see what's coming, don't have the necessary tools for survival and couldn't use those new tools effectively anyway ... It's also a sign of a dirty little secret: Many papers gave up on staff development several rounds of budget cuts ago.
5. Newspapers don't "own" enough creative technological expertise (programmers, database/mashup designers, XHTML/CSS coders, video editors, Flash animators, graphic communicators, etc) to constitute a viable tech infrastructure.
7. Individual ad-reps still make more money selling print ads than Web ads.
8. Newspapers have already lost one of their key selling points: Social currency. In 2008, all meaningful political discourse -- the essential element of social currency -- takes place on the Web.
9. The connection between quality and profitability has been broken irreparably. Boosting short-term profits by cutting quality is obviously a losing strategy, and the recent wave of newspaper layoffs and buyouts only exacerbated the trend. Editors will admit this privately, but the public already knows.
Read all 10 here. Track the shrinking future of newspapers at websites like NewspaperDeathWatch.com, Papercuts and RecoveringJournalist.com.