Citizen Journalism gains status at the Washington Times, meanwhile more big cuts at the big publishers

The Washington Times promotes the  return of citizen journalism. 

 

Now this is what is called freedom of speech. Is this freedom the result of reality shows and especially America Idol? After all, rank amateurs turn out to be very good singers. 

At the same time, the cuts and shutdowns continue.

The Chicago Tribune plans to cut another 20% of its newsroom staff in yet another bid to reduce expenses amid continuing advertising declines.

Staffers were told of the impending layoffs last week, according to three people who attended a meeting on the topic. The cuts will take place over the next several weeks, the sources said.

The expected cuts are the latest attempt to reduce expenses at the paper, whose parent Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in December.

The Washington Times’ news gathering is about to become a whole lot bigger as the newspaper launches one full print page per day of news stories reported and written by average citizens in local communities. The citizen journalism project, set to debut Monday,(today) is a new take on a traditional idea.

Community-driven news has been a long mainstay in American newspapers. The Times’ version ramps up the intensity and the outreach, focusing on six communities within the larger Washington area: academia on Monday, the Maryland and Virginia suburbs on Tuesday, the District on Wednesday, local military bases on Thursday, faith communities on Friday and the charitable and the public service community on Sunday. The citizen journalists’ work will be showcased in the A-section as an additional page of Metro coverage and will provide a natural complement to the work of the newspaper’s reporters and editors. “We know there are many issues and communities we have not been able to fully cover within the confines of a newsroom budget, and we are excited to empower citizens within those communities to provide us news that will interest all our readers, ” Executive Editor John Solomon said. “While we are expanding our reach through this project, we will not be diminishing our editorial quality. Citizen stories must meet the same rigorous standards for accuracy, precision, fairness, balance and ethics as those written by our newsroom staff,” Mr. Solomon said. Each citizen journalist is provided a set of rules for their reporting and newswriting, as well as copies of The Times’ policies governing ethics, anonymous sources and other journalistic standards. While the project calls for some first-rate news wranglers, The Times also is tapping into some of its own editorial talent known for its savvy – and heart. Former Editorial Page Editor Deborah Simmons, a veteran newswoman with close ties to the local community, is supervising the coverage for the District, the suburbs, academia, faith and the charitable communities. Longtime Times columnist Adrienne Washington, a staple on local TV and radio, also will be a part of the outreach and the editing. “Deb and Adrienne are pillars within the Washington community and their journalistic prowess, community ties and passion for news are perfectly suited for this project,” Mr. Solomon said. “This is a groundbreaking project, and I’m excited to be on the launching pad. Readers know our bylines. Now we’re flipping the script.” Grace Vuoto, editor of The Times’ new Web property BaseNews.com, will edit the Thursday citizen journalism page on military base news. “Grace is leading the way in providing citizen reports from every military base in the world through BaseNews.com, and the Thursday page is an ideal extension,” Mr. Solomon said. The idea of community journalism in a print format is actually a new take on an old tradition, said Al Tomkins, a media analyst with the Poynter Institute. “Rural and county newspapers, community weeklies – they always had space devoted to the community news, written by someone local. That kind of coverage was and still is incredibly popular,” Mr. Tomkins said. “It takes its inspiration from a simpler time. But it remains an effective way to give a voice to the voiceless.” The new citizen journalism page is one of several changes launched in the past few weeks in The Times’ print edition. By Jennifer Harper | Monday, April 13, 2009

Will the rabble be able to follow the AP stylebook? (I know that is going through many of the “professionals’ minds.”

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Sleepless in Seattle — The Post-Intelligencer shuts down — lives online

Last week: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has told employees they “might” lose their jobs as soon as next week after a deadline for Hearst Corp to sell the newspaper passed last Monday. 

The news is out, the  146-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer prints its last edition tomorrow.

The P-I will continue to “live” on the Internet with a much smaller staff.

I like it. It’s a mix of current and archival. Mikey likes it!

http://www.seattlepi.com 

Owner, the Hearst Corp. reports it has failed to find a buyer for the newspaper, which it put up for sale in January after nine years of financial losses. There are no more suckers left with enough trust fund money to waste.

The end of the print edition leaves The Seattle Times as the only major daily newspaper in the city. 

The TV stations will be there tonight and tomorrow capturing the historic day.

Seattle has been counting TV, and now the internet as their favorite news sources. Do you think people will wait for the Seattle Times to find out?

 

 

Last week:

Read between the lines: Boxes for removing personal items and shredding bins are scheduled to be delivered to the PI floors this week.

Clues suggest Hearst plans to close the P-I shortly

Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on its own demise
Just after Hearst spokesman Paul Luthringer claimed that “we are still evaluating our options,” Post-Intelligencer staffers learned that boxes and bins are scheduled to be delivered to the newsroom later this week — some for materials to be taken home, others for notes that require shredding. “It would be nice to have some clarity,” says business reporter Joseph Tartakoff. “It’s really hard to plan your work when you’re not sure if you’ll be around the next day.”

The New York Times sold off the majority of its new sky scraper in New York and has a long-term rent agreement. The company no longer owns the roof over its head.

Next, McClatchy announced massive layoffs, and Hearst’s Seattle PI is about to turn into a shadow, online only edition. Meanwhile, back at Hearst’s figurative flagship, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Media Guild has accepted big cuts just to keep most jobs. The Denver Rocky Mountain News shut down a week or so ago. 

McClatchy Co. is shearing another 1,600 jobs in a cost-cutting spree that has clipped nearly one-third of the newspaper publisher’s work force in less than a year.

The latest reduction in payroll announced Monday follows through on the Sacramento-based company’s previously disclosed plans to lower its expenses by as much as $110 million over the next year as its revenue evaporates amid a devastating recession.

The layoffs will start before April. No fooling.

 Several of McClatchy’s 30 daily newspapers, including The Sacramento Bee and The Kansas City Star, already have decided how many workers will be shown the door. Close to 2,000. 

 

Pew Research report
Just 43 percent  of Americans say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot,” according to a Pew Research poll. And even fewer, only 33 percent say they will miss their local newspaper if it folds.

Back to the West Coast

Negotiators for the Guild and the San Francisco Chronicle reached a tentative agreement Monday night changes to the collective bargaining agreement in line with cost cuts planned by Hearst. 

The agreement will require approval by Chronicle Unit Guild members. (They will approve or lose their jobs wholesale). 

A ratification meeting will be scheduled as early as Thursday of this week. Time and place will be announced on Tuesday as soon as a large enough facility can be secured.

In view of the latest terms agreed today, the Guild Negotiating Committee recommends membership approval.

The terms reached late Monday include expanded management ability to lay off employees without regard to seniority. All employees who are discharged in a layoff or who accept voluntary buyouts are guaranteed two weeks’ pay per year of service up to a maximum of one year, plus company-paid health care for the severance term, even in the event of a shutdown – which today’s agreement is designed to avoid.

Guild membership will remain a condition of continued employment for all employees. However, new hires in certain advertising sales positions will be given the option of membership, even though they will retain Guild protection under the contract.

On-callers will be limited to no more than 10 percent in any classification or department.

Pension changes are not part of this agreement, but are being discussed by pension authorities and must be implemented under terms of the Pension Protection Act, due to the recent declines in investment markets. Because those changes may affect the decisions of many members concerning buyouts, we are attempting to reach some key understandings now as to the nature of the changes and when they will take effect.

A lunch-hour meeting on Wednesday March 11, with our pension plan’s lawyer will be held at the Guild Office, 433 Natoma, Third Floor Conference Room.

A bulletin summarizing all the proposed contract changes will be issued Tuesday. A set of the complete proposed amendments will be available on the Guild’s Web site (mediaworkers.org) as soon as possible.

Management is seeking to change the union contract as part of an attempt to cut costs and keep the paper operating under the ownership of the Hearst Corp.

The company said Feb. 24 it would sell or close the paper unless the Guild agreed to changes in the labor agreement in effect through June 2010.

The leaders in the former cash cow industry thought they could just transform to their pages of expensive advertising to Web pages. Sorry. The Web is very competitive and readers will not put up with page after page of ads to follow the news. 

McClatchy is down for the count. The stock is hovering below $1 and will soon be kicked out of the New York Stock Exchange. 

The The Sun of Myrtle Beach and the  Macon Telegraph — McClatchy papers, announced last week that they were outsourcing printing, they joined what one experts are calling the last stage of the dying industry.

Chuck Moozakis, editor-in-chief of Newspapers & Technology, found in a December survey piece that the flight from printing includes mid-sized papers like the two last week, small papers, but also very big ones like the San Francisco Chronicle. Dow Jones has already closed plants in Denver and Chicago and could shutter 10 of the 17 around the country that have printed The Wall Street Journal.

 
“There is a lot of iron sitting out there now,” Moozkis reported.  
“What’s more sobering is the amount of press capacity now available within operations with relatively new presses” like Detroit and Denver. Losing the Rocky Mountain News press run — when it closes (not if) — won’t help, and some of the same impact will come as the two Detroit papers have reduced distribution of a smaller print product most weekdays.
 
 The carbon footprint of newspapers is enormous. At least the unemployed “progressives” can be happy that they are no longer contributing to the worst global warming industry on the planet.