2008 is turning out to be the worst of times for newspaper business. Even with the drawn-out Democrat primary election, those ads are not enough to pay for the executive editors at each of the top tier papers.
The News is out. At the San Jose Mercury News, a good 2nd tier paper, reporters were instructed to wait at home on the morning of March 7. If they don’t get a phone call by 10 a.m. telling them that they’ve lost their jobs, they should head to work. This is good risk management. You don’t want any of these far left losers going postal at the office. Their security badges or smart cards will be deactivated. Take note, risk managers at small papers, these are the steps you have to take when trimming the waste at your operation.
Update: That all went down a couple of weeks ago, but like Hillary’s super delegates, the jury is still out.
This is wave two for the Merc, the other was in 1999, window dressing KR did before they dumped it on McClatchy and the “fire sale” specialists, Singleton’s group.
What’s happening in San Jose is happening
all over the nation at a slower rate. RIFs, meaning reduction in force are initiatives at newspapers to trim their biggest expense. in California it is especially harsh because of the deep crash of the real estate bubble. Regular readers of my blog saw that coming. But that’s not all. What other industry does California have besides real estate, film, vegetables and tourism? Along with real estate, advertising in related categories such as home furnishings, hardware and even big-box electronics has been slowing to a trickle.
Last month, the Los Angeles Daily News said bye-bye to 25 more editors and reporters, paring its newsroom to 100 people from nearly twice that many a few years ago. Editor Ron Kaye kept his job, but he gave the news department a tearful address to his staff.
Employees at The LA Times had a few weeks to respond to a voluntary buyout offer aimed at eliminating 100 to 150 jobs. If not enough people volunteer, layoffs will make up the balance. The answer is in. Enough buyouts this time
If Zell’s point is that the real money is in local news, the recent experience of the Daily News, the Orange County Register and the regional dailies ringing the Bay Area — all more locally oriented than The Times — has been a discouraging counter example. Their inability to keep ad revenue from falling at double-digit percentages year over year has led to staff reductions that further hobble local news coverage.
The LA Times reductions will bring the newsroom head count to below 850. At its peak about a decade ago, the newsroom had more than 1,200 employees.