LA Times scandal just the tip of the iceburg

By Mick Gregory

Society of Hispanic Editors poster boy Andres Martinez dethroned from his prestigious appointment.

Mr. Bill Boyarsky, who retired from the Los Angeles Times in 2001, would like to see media reporter James Rainey and a team of top LAT reporters examine past Current sections and editorials to see whether they’ve been influenced by publicist Allen Mayer and his associate, Kelly Mullens, who has been dating editorial page editor Andres Martinez.

Executive editor Andres Martinez is forced to “buy the farm;” steps down as editor of the LA Times Sunday editorial section.

Look at this “holier than thou” memo from the shamed executive who is acutally putting his resume out to the public. It’s a “situation wanted” ad.

…. This event makes my continued tenure as Los Angeles Times editorial page editor untenable. The person in this job needs to have an unimpeachable integrity, and Hiller’s decision amounts to a vote of no confidence in my continued leadership.

I regret that my failure to anticipate and adequately address the perception of a conflict in this matter has placed Hiller — whom I like and respect a great deal, incidentally — and my colleagues on the editorial board in such an awkward position, not to mention Brian Grazer and Kelly Mullens, who did nothing wrong here but have been caught up in all this. Nick Goldberg and Michael Newman are two of the smartest, most talented people I have worked with, and any lapses in judgment here were mine, not theirs.

I accept responsibility for creating this appearance problem, though I also maintain that the newspaper is overreacting today. We are depriving readers of an interesting, serious section that is beyond reproach, and unfairly insulting the individuals we approached to participate in this guest editor program by telling them it is a corrupt concept. How we come about this decision when 24 hours ago the managing editor of this newspaper was assuring me he didn’t see a story after I walked him through the facts, and while Hiller maintains we did nothing wrong, is a bit perplexing. In trying to keep up with the blogosphere, and boasting about their ability to go after their own, navel-gazing newsrooms run the risk of becoming parodies of themselves.

Among the biggest possible conflicts of interest a newspaper can enter into is to have the same people involved in news coverage running opinion pages. I am proud of the fact that Jeff Johnson, Dean Baquet and I fully separated the opinion pages from the newsroom at the Times. I accept my share of the responsibility for placing the Times in this predicament, but I will not be lectured on ethics by some ostensibly objective news reporters and editors who lobby for editorials to be written on certain subjects, or who have suggested that our editorial page coordinate more closely with the newsroom’s agenda, and I strongly urge the present and future leadership of the paper to resist the cries to revisit the separation between news and opinion that we have achieved.

We’re a long ways removed from the fall of 2004 when Michael Kinsley and John Carroll lured me out to the West Coast, with promises of investing more resources on the LAT opinion pages and web site. Some of the retrenchment is understandable given the business fundamentals, but I have been alarmed recently by the company’s failure to acknowledge that our opinion journalism, central to the paper’s role as a virtual town square for community debate and dialogue, should not be crudely scaled back as part of across-the-board cuts. Decisions being made now to cut the one part of the paper that is predominantly about ideas and community voices go too far in my view, and are shortsighted.

Still, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last two years. —Andrés

——

This brings to mind a former icon of “Bagdad by the Bay” who’s girl friend was a PR executive who would hit up celebrity restaurants around town: i.e., Stars, Postrio, Cafe Lulu, Greens, Boulevard, One, and Farallon. If they retained her services, “like magic,” some nice plugs would appear in the popular column.

I heard this from an executive chef.

Citizen journalism at your service.

Big Cash Bonuses for Executives — Not oil companies — Newspapers

By Mick Gregory

How much do the top management of today’s media empires make? We only seem to see reports of the CEOs of a few global oil companies. What about the newspaper business? A product that is not a necessity in today’s multi-media age. Let’s look at the McClatchy gang.

These bonuses for McClatchy Newspaper executives are in addition to their annual salaries. Not a bad take for walking around in suits discussing global warming and the chances of Hillary/Obama winning in ’08. This is in sleepy Sacramento, with a nick name of “Sack-o-tomatoes” because it is smack in the middle of central California’s farm belt and you see semi-trucks by the score stacked high with small red potatoes that look a lot like tomatoes.

You can see the demographics in their Sunday best, as they make the trip to town. You know, starched white shirt, cowboy hat and boots on Pa, Ma has highlights and a long cowgirl skirt. The kids look like gang bangers. Old Town Sac has maintained wood sidewalks for that “Old West” look.

This is where the McClatchy Bee newspaper empire holds court. Bee is a very old-timey name for a newspaper, isn’t it? Kind of cute. “Busy bees.” Who knew this clan would end up gobbling up Knight Ridder, then pay for half the purchase by selling off the prestigious Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News and the San Jose Mercury News right off the bat?

In an industry that is losing revenue every year and piling on expenses, while it cuts its staff and puts more and more operations offshore, to Pune, India, isn’t it funny that they reward this type of executive management?
How about offshoring management? With today’s Skype, Web conferencing, and Business Service Software, the real number crunchers in India could streamline operations in months.

Here is the president of McClatchy, Gary Pruitt from two years ago.

Base Pay $950,000

Bonus $1,100,000

Restricted Stock $0

LTIP Payouts $108,600

Present Value of Option Grants $342,194

Other Annual Compensation $0

All Other Compensation $19,171

Total Compensation $2,519,965

Stock Option Exercises and Cumulative Balances

Shares Aquired on Exercise (#) 0

Value Realized for Options Exercised $0

Remaining Exercisable (vested) Options (#) 301,250

Remaining Unexercisable (non-vested) Options (#) 268,750

Value of Remaining Exercisable Options $9,616,656

Value of Remaining Unexercisable Options $3,204,843

Data for fiscal year ended in 2004

The following executive officers received the cash bonuses shown below:

Name and Title Amount of Annual Cash Bonus
Patrick J. Talamantes, Chief Financial Officer $170,000
Bob Weil, Vice President, Operations $200,000
Frank Whittaker, Vice President, Operations $220,000
Howard Weaver, Vice President, News $129,000

—SEC report 2006.

These figures are just “‘at-a-boy” bonuses. Just triple the figures and see how much the suits made out.
Here is what they received two years ago:

Frank R.J. Whittaker
Vice President Operations $1,277,252

Robert Weil
Vice President Operations $1,257,148

Patrick Talamantes
Vice President Finance and Chief Financial Officer $1,003,908

Howard Weaver
Vice President News $726,720

Let’s look at McClatchy stock (MNI) on the NYS exchange. The past 12 months high – $56.12, The past 12 months low – $36.95

Today’s price — $36.91. Whoopsie! If that price holds or drops this afternoon, it’s new low. After all that wheelin’ and dealin’. Well, time for another board meeting, and editorial executive summit, Palm Springs?

Oldest Newspaper Now Out of Print

For literally centuries, Swedish readers thumbed through the pages of the Post-och Inrikes Tidningar newspaper. Not any more. The world’s oldest paper has dropped its paper edition and now exists only online. The newspaper, founded in 1645 by Sweden’s Queen Kristina, became a Web-only publication on Jan. 1, 2007. It’s fate may await many of the world’s most popular newspapers.

Queen Kristina used the publication to keep her kingdom informed of the affairs of state, much like Democrat politicians use the mainstream media today.

What else is new? Editor and Publisher, the trade magazine for newspapers has been out of print for several years now. When in print, it was a small People Magazine size on a cheap glossy stock. Why wasn’t it printed on newsprint?

More bad news for newspapers — McClatchy Co., the second-largest newspaper publisher in the country, behind Gannett, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $279.3 million Tuesday after taking a hit on the sale of its largest newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The editor-centric company is not very savvy at investments.

In late December McClatchy executives announced that it was selling the Star Tribune for $530 million to the investment group Avista Capital Partners, well below the $1.2 billion it paid for the newspaper in 1998.

Newspaper values have been hit hard in recent years due to slumping advertising trends as more readers and advertisers go to the Internet for news and information.

For the full year, McClatchy posted a loss of $155.6 million.

Editor-Centric New York Times Loses More Than $800 Million in Fourth Quarter, Yet Makes Room for Baquet

The New York Times Co. posted a $648 million loss for the fourth quarter as it absorbed an $814.4 million expense to write down the value of its struggling New England properties, the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

It’s fun to watch editors with no business acumen calling the shots and rearranging the deck chairs as the big old ship, New York Times takes on water.

The top editors made a space for the former LA Times editor, Dean Baquet. You have to wonder what hard-working, award-winning New York Times editors think of that, especially the next time there is another round of layoffs. Baquet was reported hoping and holding out for new owners of the LA Times to have him “back at the helm.”

“it became clearer and clearer to me that the New York Times was the place where I belonged now,” Baquet said.

Would Senator Biden think that Baquet is “clean and well spoken?”

Newspapers killing Scripps profit picture

Mick Gregory

When did newspapers make 20 percent profits?

The Scripps Co. owner of several newspapers and the popular HGTV channel, sent out a press release to stock analysts stating it is “talking about options” for its newspaper division, which is dragging down the company’s stock price.

“We’ve reached no conclusions, it’s fair to say,” Chief Financial Officer Joseph NeCastro said at an investor conference late Tuesday. “But we do believe that there probably is some value to be created in looking at a structural alternative there . . . maybe some form of separating the newspapers out.”

Scripps has built its cable-networks business, which includes HGTV and the Food Network, into the company’s leading profit generator. It’s now entering e-commerce with acquisitions of Web sites Shopzilla and uSwitch.

Scripps’ newspapers are slow-growth or no-growth. In the first nine months of 2006, the Scripps Networks division, which includes its cable business, posted a 17.8 percent gain in revenue. Meanwhile, its Interactive Media division, aided by the uSwitch acquisition, grew 408 percent.

Newspapers, which account for less than 30 percent of the company’s revenue, saw sales drop by 0.1 percent in the same time period.

Compared to broadcast television, “Newspapers seem to be much more troubled, and it’s hard to call a bottom there,” NeCastro said. “I think up until this last year probably it wasn’t that clear. I think we collectively feel like there is some damage.”

The newspaper industry is in a death ride. The Knight Ridder chain sold itself last year after investor pressure, and the Tribune Co., which paid more than 8 billion dollars for Times Mirror, is now being pressured to break up its newspapers, especially by the Chandler family, (former owners of Times Mirror), to boost its stock.

Scripps’ comments cheered Wall Street, with analysts from Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs publishing positive analyses Wednesday. Scripps stock hit a 52-week high, closing up 3.8 percent to $51.92.

“We were positively surprised by the company’s comments, which indicate that management has given more serious consideration to this possibility than we had previously thought,” Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert said. “Elimination of the newspaper unit would meaningfully enhance the company’s growth prospects and likely translate into a higher valuation for the shares.”

Scripps has daily and community newspapers in 18 markets, including Denver; Memphis and Knoxville, Tenn.; and south Florida. Scripps is a 50-50 partner with MediaNews Group, the owner of the Denver Post, in the Denver Newspaper Agency.

Scripps executives did not say an investment banker has been hired to assist in the deliberations. But NeCastro said the company’s board has spent “a fair amount of time” discussing options.
One possibility is a spinoff, in which Scripps shareholders would receive shares in a new, “pure play” newspaper company. Investors could then choose to sell the newspaper company shares and stick with the higher-growth, new-economy Scripps — or vice-versa.
“We believe (Scripps) could spin out its non-newspaper businesses, could sell most of its papers, or likely pursue many other scenarios,” Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Fine said.

— David Milstead, Rocky Mountain News

New York Times selling off TV stations en mass to keep afloat

The New York Times Co. stated after the stock market closed Thursday that it plans to sell its broadcast-media group, including nine television stations, to Robert M. Bass’s Oak Hill Capital Partners for $575 million.

Facing the prospect of further circulation and advertising declines and the growing threat of online competition, the newspaper giant said it needs to dispose of the properties to focus on core operations (the old gray lady).

“Over the years (the stations) have provided their communities with high-quality programming and have contributed significantly to our financial performance,” Janet L. Robinson, the company’s chief executive, said in a press release. “We believe, however, that our focus now should be on the development of our newspapers and our rapidly growing digital businesses and the increasing synergies between them.”
The lead investor for Oak Hill, Bass is part of the Bass family of Texas oil billionaires. His brother, Sid, recently held a large stake in Walt Disney Co. Robert Bass’s net worth is placed at more than $5 billion. Oak Hill’s committed capital stands at $4.6 billion, the company said.

The nine stations were expected to account for $150 million in 2006 sales, or 4 percent of New York Times’ overall revenue when the plan to sell was announced in September, spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said. At that time, 2006 operating earnings from the group was estimated at $33 million.

The stations are affiliates of ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as one member of the MyNetworkTV group, and are in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. Market sizes range from Memphis to Moline, Ill. They employ roughly 900 people, Mathis said.

While a number of media companies are disposing of assets in order to cut costs, don’t expect large newspaper companies to sell off their broadcast assets en masse like the Times has, said Steven Barlow, analyst for Prudential Securities in New York.

“I wouldn’t imagine you’ll see anything from (other media companies) on that front,” Barlow said.

Why did the LA Times ignore coverage of this hate crime?

Can a minority be a racist? Mainstream media journalists ask.
The LA Times and CNN stayed far away of this hate crime.

Again, a citizen journalist brought the truth to light.

The story broke on November 3, 2006, when an LA Web site editor William Pearl scooped other media on LBReport.com, quoting Long Beach police spokeswoman Jacqueline Bezart as saying a crowd of black attackers hurled racial taunts (“White bitches!” “We hate whites!”) at the young women, and the police were pursuing it as a hate crime.

At the Press-Telegram, reporter Tracy Manzer quickly landed an exclusive interview with the victims, introducing awkward issues of race and culture rarely (if ever) seen in California mainstream media. Said one victim, identified as Laura: “They asked us, ‘Are you down with it?’ We had no idea what that meant so we didn’t say anything and just walked by them up to the haunted house. They were grabbing their crotches — we didn’t know if it was a gang thing or what.”

Suddenly, newspaper editors, TV-news directors and other media faced an unsettling prospect of their own: If white-on-black hate crime is covered with an apologetic tone and references to the legacy of slavery, what’s the tone for covering black-on-white hate crime? Can a minority be a racist? And how can we, the media, get out of this?

As the Press-Telegram reported, three white women aged 19 to 21 emerged from a “maze” walk in a house and were confronted by up to 40 black teenagers who pelted them with pumpkins and lemons. The paper said, “The taunts and jeers grew more aggressive, the victims recalled, as did the size of the crowd. Now females joined in, and everyone began saying, ‘We hate white people, f— whites!’ ”

Notice there was not the around-the-clock coverage by CNN or any coverage by the LA Times.

Compare this “non story” with that of the Duke Lacrosse team. The alleged hate crime by a stripper and the Democrat prosecutor Nyfong.

Where will you read the followup? In the Mainstream Media?

Nearly 70 cut in Philly — Let the bumping begin!

More McClatchy fallout

There are 68 members of the Inquirer newsroom being laid off this week. Some editors called in “their people” for closed-door sessions Tuesday afternoon. Other learned by phone after work. They’re to have appointments today in HR, both those laid off and those who had to lay them off.

It’s all a little vague because the contract delivers “bumping rights” — the process may play out for weeks — potentially longer if there are legal challenges. Bumping rights are set up by the Guild so that seniority rules and someone with six more months experience than another may bump them out of their job. Sounds like something right out of the former Soviet Union.

More clear is who got the news. The NBA writer, David Aldridge, was in Denver covering the Sixers when he found out. (That was a hell of a gig). The national political reporter, Tom Fitzgerald, heard from a friend. The “gaming” columnist, Rob Watson found out his trips to Atlantic City would be on his dime now.

And now this letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer Publisher:

It seems it’s not the character of one’s writing content, but the color of one’s skin…

Continue reading

Inside the mind of an LA Times columnist

You have to wonder why newspaper journalists seem to be so out of touch with the public. Maybe it comes down to elite, arrogant snobbishness.

Joel Stein of the LA Times writes:

I don’t want to talk to you; I want to talk at you. A column is not my attempt to engage in a conversation with you….Not everything should be interactive. A piece of work that stands on its own, without explanation or defense, takes on its own power.

I get that you have opinions you want to share. That’s great. You’re the Person of the Year. I just don’t have any interest in them.

A lot of e-mail screeds argue that, in return for the privilege of broadcasting my opinion, I have the responsibility to listen to you. I don’t. No more than you have a responsibility to read me. I’m not an elected servant. I’m an arrogant, solipsistic, attention-needy freak who pretends to have an opinion about everything. I don’t have time to listen to you.

Hello? We don’t care to digest your opinion anymore. This is the world of Web 2.0. Read up on it. You may need a new job in the next couple of years.

New Year — New Job Cuts at Philly Newspapers

The Newspaper industry can’t stop the bleeding. McClatchy lost more than 38 percent of its market value even after they absorbed Knight Ridder. McClatchy sold the Star Tribune at a 58 percent loss from it’s purchase price eight years ago.

By Mick Gregory

The McClatchy newspaper chain may be remembered in the same light as Mrs. O’ Leary’s cow. You may know the “story,” her cow was blamed for kicking over a lamp that started the Great Chicago Fire. McClatchy’s leveraged buyout of Knight Ridder and the spin-off of large, award-winning (union-heavy) newspapers started the Great Newspaper Fire Sale of 2006. And it has raged out of control.

Maybe journalists will start to gain some humility along with a dose of reality and economics 101. Especially at the papers McClatchy dumped i.e., the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and now the Star Tribune. Where have all their union dues gone? I’m guessing that most went to multi-millionaire Democrat politicians.

The Associated Press reports this afternoon that the Inquirer began a round of layoffs today. Several reporters at the Inquirer said they were told Tuesday morning that their jobs were being eliminated, according to AP. The employees said that they were told to meet with personnel officials on Wednesday to discuss details of their severance pay and health benefits.

“The specific number of layoffs is still unclear because some Inquirer employees have already taken other jobs since word of the impending layoffs was announced in November,” the AP reports.

“As we all know, layoff notices are expected next week and could come as early as Tuesday (Jan. 2, today), so I am sending this memo in advance to inform you of some basics,” the e-mail from Ferrick said. “This FAQ is intended for those who may receive layoff notices.”

They tried to avoid more layoffs following last year’s 80-person job cut at the Inquirer. My thinking is the union wants enough dues paying members so the Guild/CWA bosses can still rub elbows with John Edwards, Obmama and Hillary.

Philly shouldn’t take in personally, the entire newspaper industry is in death spiral.

Alan Mutter of the non-profit Poynter Institute said the shares of publicly held publishing stocks in the last two years lost nearly $13.5 billion in value. “Growing investor pressure has terrorized and dangerously defocused the executives of publicly held [newspaper] companies,” he says. “Instead of navigating their businesses through the most difficult environment they will ever know, the executives have been forced to spend disproportionate amounts of their time on investor relations, financial engineering and ill-considered expense cuts that could imperil the long-term health of their franchises.”
bad-news-for-publishers.jpg

Alan Mutter of the non-profit Pointer Institute says the shares of publicly held publishing stocks in the last two years lost nearly $13.5 billion in value. “Growing investor pressure has terrorized and dangerously defocused the executives of publicly held [newspaper] companies,” he says. “Instead of navigating their businesses through the most difficult environment they will ever know, the executives have been forced to spend disproportionate amounts of their time on investor relations…”

What? Newspaper CEOs have actually started to care what investors thought?

‘Apocalypto’ has prevented one of the biggest rewrites of evil in history

Mick Gregory

I just saw Apocalypto and I am in awe of Mel Gibson’s work. The digital photography caputured the jungle beauty and the heart pounding running that could not have been filmed just a few years ago. The cast was meticulously picked from villagers and the man who played Jaguar Paw is an excellent actor. He has a future in Hollywood.

But most important to me is that Gibson has pointed out that the Mayan empire was not morally or scientificly superior to Western Civilization. The Mayans did hold pagan festivals where they beheaded and cut the hearts out of captured countrymen and took women as sex slaves by the thousands. They were a blood lusting totalitarian society that killed off their own civilization at a greater clip than Hitler or Stalin. This movie is based on documented events and many are learning them for the first time.
Another was the Mayan’s great studies of the solar eclipse… For what reason, science? Only to show power over their people and stop the killings once every ten years or so. The Mayans had played a sport similar to lacross… No, it was just a sand pit where the sport was hunting men like animals.

Why the coverup?

Gibson has overturned one of the most unusual rewrites of an evil empire in history. I know that the progressive/socialists at our universities are not happy with the truth coming out. They are busy coming out with their counter punches.
“Don’t pay attention to Gibson, he’s a (fill in the blank). Why the distortions? Because it doesn’t fit their propaganda model that all culures are equal and most are even superior to Christianity, Western Civilization and the bottom line, America’s cultureal roots.

————

I remember teachers and texts telling me that the Mayans were so advanced, that they performed operations on skulls and hearts to save their warriors.

My father laughed at me when I repeated that story in the early 70s.

He said the Mayan witch doctors were killing people, mainly slaves, including virgins by cutting their hearts out and cooking them in front of them as offerings.

Living in San Francisco, I have to report that the Progressive Democrats in that city no longer observe Memorial Day, instead, the city has a parade celebrating Hispanic culture, compete with samba dancing, Mayan Sun God dances and floats.

I can imagine Hugo Chavez as one of the high priests ordering the heads chopped off of his competition.

Did you read this in your daily newspaper or text books?

It’s not the medium, it’s the bias, stupid!

I just saw this piece from the New York Sun by Alicia Colon on Drudge. Ms. Colon highlights a blog that has been hidden by the mainstream media, Lucianne.com.

Lucianne exposes what I believe is the root cause of the shift of the educated middle class from the mainstream media to that of the fresh air of Web-based citizen journalists.

The Mendacity Of the Liberal Press

BY ALICIA COLON
December 15, 2006
http://www.nysun.com/article/45266

The first time I heard the word “mendacity” was in the film “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” I loved the way Burl Ives’s character spits out the word as something vile and unacceptable.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where untruthfulness is routinely accepted and even mandated by politicians, union leaders, and members of the press. New York is the headquarters of the biggest producer of mendacity, the New York Times. Fortunately, it’s also the home of the antidote, Lucianne.com.

I pity the Americans who do not have the computer expertise to access the exposés of lies of corrupt politicians and gullible television anchors, biased newspaper headlines, and anything from the Associated Press. If it were not for the Internet and Lucianne Goldberg’s Web news forum, I would never learn the truth behind the Times headlines as pitched by the Drudge Report.

Matt Drudge, who may or may not be a willing accomplice to the distortion of news reporting, must be held responsible for the dissemination of the bias in the liberal press. Studies have shown that the readership of the Times is down — as it is in other liberal publications — and so are the television ratings of the alphabet networks and CNN and MSNBC, while Fox News is up. Continue reading

Thursday afternoon meetings are nothing to look forward to at newspapers these days

Washington Post Newsroom Nervous
Mick Gregory

As Washington Post reporters prepared themselves for their all-hands meeting earlier this week with executive editor Leonard Downie, they used five or six words to describe the mood of the newsroom — Harry Jaffe reports:

Anxious.
Depressed.
Restless.
Worried.
Angry.
#&!#!.
Arrogant.

angel-of-death.jpg

A month ago Downie issued a memo saying the Post would have to “shrink the newsroom staff” and “renovate sections” and tighten the news hole. Translation: fewer reporters writing shorter stories at different assignments.
Then earlier this week New York Times media writer David Carr, in a column about Washington Post Company head Don Graham, said, “Newsroom layoffs of an unspecified number are in the offing.”

Also this week, mulit-billionaire David Geffen has offered $2 billion to the Tribune company for the LA Times. (Hint to Tribune, this is a very rich guy who can affford to pay $4 billion for the LA Times. Hold out a little, then sell). Come on, YouTube went for $1.6 billion, and that is about 1,000 lawsuits waiting to happen.

Updated 12/15/06, Drudgereport: Trib management tell Geffen you need at least $1 billion more. OK, that would be great. Maybe the Chandlers would be happy with that, but then they’d have to watch the Hollywood elite make a mockery of their once glorious “Fourth Estate.”

In Philly: Inquiering minds want to know

“The Inquirer newsroom is bracing for the possible layoff of up to 20 percent of its approximately 410 reporters, editors and support staff.” That was a “ballpark” number.

Managing editor Anne Gordon had earlier reported that the editorial department had been asked to plan for “up to 150 layoffs,” which is considerably more than 20 percent.

Publisher and co-owner of the newspapers Brian P. Tierney said the number of layoffs would be something less than 150, depending on what kind of concessions they could get out of contract negotiations with the Guild.

Meanwhile, the arrogant former LA Times executive editor Mr. Baquet, (who refused to respond to shareholder and senior management requests to make budget cuts) says “I won’t speculate on the future.”

Mr. Baquet,

Why not? You are unemployed? Do you really think Geffen will give you back your cushy executive editor position in LA? (Even the the Chandler family wants more money, they don’t want their former empire thrown to Hollywood whores).

Why not prop your Cole Haan shoes on top of a desk in Santa Barbara? Imagine the gravitus you would bring! The publisher, McCaw will not return your phone calls? Why not go back to the New York Times?

Oh, Keller said they don’t have any openings right now for top executive editors.

Call Gannett, but first, brush up on the Web/newspaper transition. How are you on HTML? You really don’t understand business, free markets and economics 101. How about a few courses at the University of Phoenix? Oh, they won’t give you any credit for gravitus? And the pay is a bit below the standards you have grown to enjoy. Too bad.

How about your friends in high places in the Democrat party? Remember all the insider conversations. How about the time you published U.S. classified details about the legal and effective Swift counterterror program? That earned you some points with Pelosi, Boxer and Feinstein, didn’t it? Oppsie, they aren’t returning your calls either?

Arrogant: overbearing self-worth or self-importance, example: newspaper executive editors.

Classified advertising is the canary in the mineshaft for newspapers — and it has flopped over

By Mick Gregory

Help wanted and automotive classified advertising have been the core revenue category for daily newspapers. But the bottom has fallen out because of competition from the much more customer-centric and well-read Web portals. Craigslist.org, Ebay.com, Yahoo and Google have taken the lion’s share of revenue and listings in just five years. The classified gold mines newspapers created and held on to “mining rights” for nearly a century have played out.

One of the hidden, but major differences in operations between the Web and newspapers is interaction with the customer. With Internet sites, the customers — “advertisers” in newspaper lingo — do the classified ad writing, placement and coordination. At newspapers, a huge staff of “account executives” perform that process. But that is about to change.

AdStar Inc., provider of e-commerce software and services for advertisers and publishers, is supplying its E-commerce Platform and Web-based Ad Sales software solutions to MediaNews Group (the new media privately held company that specializes in “fire sale” newspapers.

AdStar’s approach enables advertisers to create, schedule and pay for one or more ad listings from a single application for print and Web-based publications. Most MediaNews papers converted last year to AdStar Web-based software as have several Hearst publications.

AdStar calls the latest version of its application “much more Web-centric and assumes a strong Internet bias on the part of the online consumer coming to newspapers’ online brands.” Simple Internet packaging and pricing (Good/Better/Best) replaces representations made by newspaper account executives of complex print classified packaging and shown on many newspaper Web sites. They often need explaining and the customers are a lot more savvy today.

The purpose of enterprise software such as AdStar is to make it easier for customers to automatically place their own classified ads. The big savings will come from old media downsizing their labor intensive classified and inside retail sales staffs and offshoreing the remaining human element to Mumbai or Manila for a 24/7 service.

One dirty little secret that has been hidden from newspaper classified advertisers is that the readership of the paid advertising is often higher than the shallow, formula written stories by their editorial departments. Hard to believe? It’s true. The ads are interesting, useful content. Craigslist knows that.

So newsrooms with head counts that would have even caught the attention Enron executives for budget cuts, remain bloated. The LA Times has some 950 editorial staff. The New York Times carries even more. What are the stockholders thinking?

Editorial enterprise solutions…

(I’m guessing that’s what the software companies will call it).

The next step will be copyediting Web-based systems. They are already in place at Hearst and some MediaNews Group papers. Though, right now, the only labor saving effieciencies comes from stories from sister papers. In the near future, popular stories can be placed in multiple regions for both print and Web publications within seconds. And copy editors for the entire chain of papers and Web sites can be in one central location, today San Ramon, tomorrow Mumbai.

The elitist editorial departments haven’t bothered to check the health of their canaries lately. It’s over and the fat canary isn’t singing.

As newspapers seek to cut costs in the face of sagging circulation and advertising pressures, some have started to ship jobs overseas to places like India. “More than two years ago, Reuters, the financial news service, opened a new center in Bangalore,” reports Doreen Carvajal. “The 340 employees, including an editorial team of 13 local journalists, was deployed to write about corporate earnings and broker research on U.S. companies. Since then, the Reuters staff at the center has grown to about 1,600, with 100 journalists working on U.S. stories.” Other publications are using the services of Hi-Tech Export, an Indian company with some 700 employees that offers proofreading, copy-editing and writing services to companies in the United States, France and Britain.

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