Most trusted media? Not newspapers.

Besides skiing, wine gulping and dining 24/7, there are some presentations at Davos. I know, it is hard to believe.

Two thirds of people in the Western world don’t trust newspaper articles.

Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, began a session saying that trust is an issue for the press as well as government and big business. Edelman found that trust in business magazines and analysts fell from 57% to 44% and from 56% to 47% respectively. Trust in TV news is down from 49% to 36% and in newspaper coverage from 47% to 34%.

The least trusted businesses: Banking and the auto business. In general the U.S., India, U.K., Poland and China, there is much more trust in business than in government. The French, Germans and most of Europe believe  in Big Brother over the private sector. The sad part, the U.S. is moving toward the French.

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LA Times cuts more and has more to come

 

More “journalists” at the once great LA Times have been cut. The paper’s circulation is shedding readers faster than Alec Baldwin sheds his hair. The Zell team has to cut and cut more.

Hint to staffers: Keep your  head down and work about 10-14 extra hours a week and you migh hang on to your job.

Another 75 editorial staffers were let go at the Los Angeles Times on Monday, including numerous reporters and editors involved in arts and entertainment coverage.

The cuts included film critic Carina Chocano, whose departure leaves Hollywood’s hometown newspaper with one full-time film critic, Kenneth Turan. Chocano had been with the Times since 2004.

Times editor Russ Stanton cited the growing economic downturn as the reason for the latest round of layoffs in a memo to the staff. The Times eliminated about 130 editorial positions in July as part of a companywide downsizing effort at its beleaguered parent company, Tribune Co. Stanton’s note said Monday’s cuts represented about 10% of the newsroom staff.

In a note to staffers, newly appointed L.A. Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein wrote, “The deteriorating business climate is something that cannot be ignored.”

Scribe Veronique de Turenne confirmed her exit on the L.A. Now lifestyle blog that she had penned for the Times since February. Among the other staffers who covered aspects of the biz now exiting the Times are Lynell George, Agustin Gurza, Swati Pandey and Scott Timberg.

— Hollywood Reporter, Cynthia Littleton.

The news has leaked out — Phil Bronstien was ‘promoted’ out of his job at The Chronicle

A lot can happen in five years.

The Chronicle was once the flagship of the Hearst Newspaper group; the San Francisco Chronicle enjoyed 1.4 million readers on Sunday and 1.2 million on weekdays. But that was five years ago. A lot can happen between nine and five, and a hell of a lot in five years. The Bronstein saga looks like it was 18 years, but most of that was with the much weaker Examiner, while Hearst waited for the JOA to run out.

By Mick Gregory

Michael Savage, the national talk show host based in San Francisco, would shed some light on Phil Bronstien’s poor editorial judgement and left coast, flunky editorial coverage and free political promotion for “friends” on a regular basis. My guess is that some executives with Hearst in New York believed Savage had made some good points. Bronstein’s time at the helm of the good ship Chronicle was a disaster.

Bronstein was a good friend of William R. Hearst III, apparently that was all that mattered. Mr. Bronstein was never as smart or as good a journalist or business manager as he thought he was.

He actually helped ruin The Chronicle by stripping out any competent editors, marketing and advertising executives that he perceived to be smarter. There were scores of them. One I will call BG, did more customer building for Hearst in one year than Bronstein in 18. In fact, Bronstein cost the Hearst Corp millions of dollars in lawsuits and the shady hand-off of the Examiner.

News smarts — Bronstein put on a wetsuit and posed for his photographers looking in a cold SF lake for a 14 inch aligator. What a newsman!

He got a lot more publicity when he was married briefly to Sharon Stone. At least there was some positive publicity for The Chronicle. But that soon went downhill. Remember the Komodo dragon that bit Phil’s toe? The Komodo has a bacteria-infested mouth, a real jounalist would have Googled the details before taking his shoe off and going in the cage with that animal. Bronstein would have to have medical treatments for months and walk in a cast. There were jokes about the condition of the poor Komodo dragon’s mouth having bit the flesh of Bronstein. And one of the meeting rooms was named the Komodo Dragon, not much Phil could do about that.

Taking charge

Right off the bat, Bronstein and then, publisher Tim White, did some “horse trading” with “Da Mayor” Willie Brown on allowing Hearst to pay the Fong family some $60 million to kill off the Examiner, so The Chronicle could have a monopoly in the fifth largest media market. OOPS, someone let the cat out of the bag and White retired to Carmel’s 17-mile Drive with a few million dollars to spare. That money to the Fongs and White could have come in handy in the next couple of years.

An analysis of four months of The San Francisco Examiner’s editorial pages shows the paper became more positive toward Mayor Willie Brown after its publisher offered the mayor more favorable coverage on August 30.

But the Examiner editorials did not give the mayor a free ride after its publisher, Tim White, offered Brown a more positive slant in exchange for the mayor’s support of the sale of the Chronicle to the Hearst Corporation.

For the readers of the Chronicle and Examiner the journalistic ethics of Bronstein and White were exposed for all to see thanks to an anti-trust suit brought by Clint Reilly.

The Grade the News Web site analyzed all Examiner editorials, editorial cartoons and columns on the editorial pages for two months before and two months after the Aug. 30 offer.

Editorials (including snippets from prior opinions reprinted in occasional summaries) which mentioned the mayor in a positive light increased from two before Aug. 30 to six after.

Nothing came of it. Reilly proved his point and Bronstein was preserved by Hearst, again due to William R. Hearst III’s friendship.

Now in total power, Bronstein ruined the Travel advertising category by eliminating special sections that long-time advertisers such as Harrah’s, The Eldorado, The Nugget and several Lake Tahoe resorts invested in. What did he put in its place? The wire copy of generic travel stories from around the globe and photos of campers by Emerald Bay claiming what a fine place Lake Tahoe is for kayaking. What do you think the casino hotel and ski resort executives thought of that?

Next, he actually used advertising profits from retailers in Union Square such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, Williams-Sonoma and several hotels to open a “Chronicle Cooking School” at the Embarcadero. Then he used his free newspaper space to promote it. He was promoting the Ebarcadero as the new shopping area of San Francisco. What do you think the advertising executives responsible for building traffic to Union Square thought about that? They were paying $20,000 a page for advertising day after day in The Chronicle for years.

But wait, there is more! The Chronicle before Bronstein was actually helpful in organizing the effort to build a new ballpark. It was a grand success. PacBell Park became a packed house, sometimes called the park that Bonds built. Bronstein, soon after decided to go after Barry Bonds and BALCO. For a couple of years you could count on a daily story of some anonymous leaks of grand jury testimony enhanced with speculation to tear down Barry Bonds.

Today, we learn that hundreds of baseball players have used steroids. And there is in fact no proof that Bonds did. What was that all about?

Politics, The Chronicle actually endorsed the corrupt Democrat Gray Davis over Arnold Schwartzenhager and all throughout the recall election, posted poll results that showed the recall failing. In fact, right up to election day!

On Nancy Pelosi, no stories about her non-union restaurants, hotel and vineyards. And her union political donations. Now that’s journalism!

Do you remember that Bronstein fired an old photographer because he was protesting the war in Iraq and shouldn’t have taken on a political cause? But then, just months later, Bronstein hires Sean Penn to report on his disdain for the war?

Did you know that Bronstein also gave his approval to a string of left wing icons such as Larry Flynt to speak to the Chronicle staff about “freedom of speech?”

But that’s not all. Bronstein cut the targeted news and advertising zoning in Contra Costa County and let the years of investment in the fastest growing suburbs of California go for nothing. The CC Times was soon fat and happy again, actually making more profit than The Chronicle with its replating of several East Bay newspapers and now the San Jose Mercury News. Their combined daily and Sunday readership is substantially higher than the Chronicle’s now.

That’s a sign of a savvy media baron, isn’t it?

Thumbs up go to Michael Savage for helping put an end to Bronstein’s reign of stupidity.

If Hearst executives did a detailed study of Bronstein’s management decisions, they could link a dramatic loss of readership, circulation and advertising to his tenure. Maybe they did just that.

The New York Times Stock Hit an All-Time Low Last Week

By Mick Gregory

The Times stock is nearing fire sale prices and gets a dead cat bounce to excite the Sulzbergers. Yet, who wants it?

The company has raised circulation prices at The Times and reduced third-party and non-profitable distribution, so circulation numbers falling are blamed on “management” not the content or bias. The New York Times’ quarterly dividend of 23 cents per share — a yield of 5.5 percent — amounts to a wash with real and hidden inflation at the same rate. I hope investors don’t really need the money.

Wall Street analysts have concerns about the continued weakness at The Boston Globe and the regional group is expected to keep earnings in a free fall. Additionally, there will be 12 weeks in the fourth quarter this year versus 13 weeks last year, reducing sales comparisons during the most profitable weeks of the year. So, you will see a dip in sales due to the calendar and poor performance.

Add the fact that the stock is one with an elite voting class in control by the high-living family that doesn’t have to follow the SEC stockholder protections that Sarbanes-Oxley provides for. There is no shareholder right to question the decisions of the Sulzberger famiy.

The stock is off 37 percent from its 52-week high of $26.90 set in February. Shares traded at a year-low of $16.02 last week but had a “dead cat” bounce this week of 3 percent. I predicted that the stock would dip below $18 several months ago. Now I am resetting my prediction to $14.

Then Mark Cuban should buy it and throw out the Sulzbergers. Maybe Dan Rather could be made the editor? Maybe Google’s founders are at that stage of self actualization, that they want to buy the Old Gray Lady? Nah, they are much too smart with money and innovative.

How about Gannett? They would be attacked worse than Murdoch. “How dare they!” What’s your guess?

Meanwhile, the grim reaper continues to cull the “journalistis” at every newspaper large and not so.

Here is an email an SOB editor must have spent two days writing:

11/4/07

Good evening,

As promised, I am passing along the major details of our newsroom
reorganization.

We will hold staff meetings to discuss it at 5 p.m. Wednesday for the
night staff and 11:45 a.m. Thursday for dayside.

What I am posting here is a framework mostly, dealing with staff
assignments. But that is only the first phase. We have considerable work to
do if we are going to fully realize this structure’s potential on the printed
newspaper page and online.

Among other things, we’ll need to revise all of our news protocols. And just
about every reporter on the list will have to endure what we call a “beat
clarification” process to establish topical priorities.

For now, the structure you see here will simply overlay the existing print and
online newspapers. But if we do our jobs well, within a few weeks, you’ll
begin to see real changes on the page. They will be, I sincerely hope, for the
better.

Let me say for the record, once again, with roughly 25 fewer newsroom
staffers, there will be noticeable content reductions in some areas. No
reorganization plan can change that. Some things we’ve done in the past
cannot be done.

As we’ve talked with people today, several have asked “why me” or “why
this decision instead of that.” Well, the whys for these changes ought to be
well understood by now. The San Diego Union Tribune announced a
newsroom staff reduction targeted at 10 percent today. Other papers, in just
the last few weeks, have announced similar or greater reductions. Our
overall budget reduction will be about 10 percent. After rehires, our new
staff will be about 12 to 15 percent smaller.

Absent these changes, over which the newsroom had no control, many of the
assignment changes outlined below would not have happened. Many of the
columns we killed today would have continued. Many of the restructured
departments would look unchanged.

But we had to make changes, significant changes and what is outlined here
represents our best ideas for maintaining the core of our print newspaper
while continuing to build our online presence. All of this can be second
guessed and I would guess it will be in coming weeks.

But do always keep in mind, if it doesn’t work, if it doesn’t achieve our
hoped for goals, then we’ll do something else. More than ever, we need to be
both patient and flexible. As always, my door is open to anyone who wants
to discuss these issues further.

Among the most significant changes is the creation of a new online/print
news team, sort of a journalistic skunk works. This team will be led by Carla
Savalli, our senior editor for local news who has been our chief change agent
in the last year, creating the 24/7 news desk for one thing.

Carla becomes senior editor for innovation and new content. She’ll supervise
the skunk works and also oversee our online operation.

Her team will include:
Nancy Malone — Deputy editor
Kevin Graman — Daily general assignment
To be announced – AM breaking news/general assignment
Rehire or new hire — PM breaking news/general assignment
Erica Curless – Idaho general assignment
Jim Camden — Online data base reporter

In addition, Bill Morlin, investigations and federal courts will continue to
report to Carla. Jim Camden will be giving up his Spin Control political
column. However, we’re going to develop a new political blog, similar to the
hugely successful SportsLink, where all of our public life and government
writers can post on political developments.

The innovation and new content team will flip on its end the traditional late-
in-the-day deadline structure. For this group, deadline pressure will come
early in the day as they write first for the web and then provide context and
insight for the online newspaper. They will use all of the tools at our
disposal, print, online, blogs, audio, video, etc., to tell the stories that make
our region different from any other on any given day.

The reordered city desk will be run by Addy Hatch, our current city editor.
Her deputies will include Dave Wasson, Dan Hansen and Scott Maben.

The big change in the city desk structure is the incorporation of the Business
department and staff into the city desk. We’ll continue to have a daily,
Saturday and Sunday business section, of course. But the staff will be
supervised through the city desk. Alison Boggs, the current business editor,
returns to reporting.

You’ll see that we’ve asked Shawn Vestal to return to reporting, meaning
The Falls blog will end. And Pia Hansen is giving up her column to take on
an important general assignment role. Bert Caldwell gives up his column
and returns to full-time business reporting.

That gives us this city desk lineup:
Alison Boggs – Social services/aging
Shawn Vestal – Higher education
John Stucke – Health
Jody Lawrence-Turner — Public safety
Jonathan Brunt — Spokane City/Spokane County
Sara Leaming — K-12
Richard Roessler — Olympia
Rehire – Natural resources
Karen Dorn-Steele — County/state courts
Pia Hansen — GA/personality profiles/obits
Becky Kramer – Idaho GA
Betsy Russell — Boise
Parker Howell — Business
Bert Caldwell — Business
Tom Sowa — Business/.txt
Doug Clark – Columnist

Among the newspaper’s most important initiatives is our Voices operation.
This year, we launched a weekly Voice for Post Falls/Rathdrum/Spirit Lake.
Next spring we’ll launch a new Voice for the West Plains. We also have a
twice-weekly Voice for the Spokane Valley and two weekly sections for the
city of Spokane. The Voices are among our fastest growing print section and
readership just keeps growing. Under this plan, for the first time, the Voices
will be fully staffed by full-time reporters.

Tad Brooks will continue to serve as Voices editor. Jeff Jordan is deputy
editor and Jim Allen is assistant editor. Tad and his team will assign
reporters to specific Voices. For the first time ever, a staff reporter will be
assigned to Handle extra serving Kootenai County.

The Voices staff now includes:
Nina Culver
Mike Prager
Lisa Leinberger
John Craig
Amy Cannata

Amy, our first mobile journalist (MoJo) will bring her particular expertise to
the Voices where we intend to launch a significant online initiative
sometime next year.

For those specifically interested in Idaho coverage, the breakdown is this:
Erica Curless – Idaho general assignment
Becky Kramer – Idaho General Assignment
Betsy Russell – Boise bureau and capitol coverage
To be named – Handle Extra/Post Falls Voice reporter (from the
Voices reporters listed above).
Dave Oliveria – Online and Huckleberries Online

That is a net loss of three Idaho news reporters from the pre-layoff period.
We will continue to staff the Idaho bureau office. We’ll cover Idaho preps
and University of Idaho sports out of that office and Kathy Plonka will
remain in Idaho as a staff photographer. The quantity and quality of Idaho
coverage ought to improve immediately as we get these folks in place.
Before the end of the year, we’ll launch our new Regional page where
content from Idaho and the Valley that doesn’t make one of the section
fronts will get good display.

On the Features side, the most significant change is the loss of Shadra
Beesley as 7 editor. Shadra has been a force since joining us a year or so
ago. She didn’t just caretake the 7 she inherited from Nancy Malone, she put
her own stamp on it. But Shadra is one of our most versatile editors. She will
move to the night copy desk where she will be an invaluable help in simply
putting out the paper. My thanks to her. Jim Kershner will be giving up his
longtime column in order to help boost our features reporting.

Features Editor Ken Paulman and deputy editor Rick Bonino will take on 7
as part of their regular editing responsibilities. Cheryl-Anne Milsap will
continue to edit Home, write her weekly Home Planet column and produce
our new Spokane Scene page.

The Features reporter lineup doesn’t change over much, except we did have
to accommodate for the loss of Virginia DeLeon. The staff:
Heather Lalley — Ethics, values and religion
Jim Kershner – General assignment and performing arts
Paul Turner — The Slice
Dan Webster – General assignment, books and movies
Lorie Hutson — Food/GA
Tom Bowers — 7
Som Jordan – 7

Our online operation will continue to be run by Online News Editor Ryan
Pitts who will report to Carla Savalli, but retain full responsibility for the
operation of SpokesmanReview.com and our other digital platforms. This is
a department where we took some serious hits. At one point we had lost all
three of our online producers. Here is Ryan’s lineup:
Colin Mulvaney — Multimedia coordinator
Gina Boysun — Programmer
To be hired — Programmer
Andrew Zahler — Online producer
Thuy Nguyen — Online producer
Rehire or new hire – Online producer/multimedia
Dave Oliveria — Huckleberries Online

Our night and day copy desks, now consolidated, also lost a number of key
staff members.

Geoff Pinnock retains oversight of our desk and production departments, as
well as photo, as our senior editor for design and presentation. Bertil
Peterson remains news editor. Adrian Rogers, who was deputy news editor
until taking time off to go back to school, will return as Bertil’s chief deputy.
Copy editors include:
Tom Green
Kat Smith
Ruth Reynolds
Cathy Reynolds
Katharine Kumangai
Anne LaTourneau
Mike McGarr
Shadra Beesley
Rehire or new hire

Design and art staffers include:
Ralph Walter – assistant design chief
Rick House — Copy editor/designer
Kimberly Lusk — Copy editor/designer
Molly Quinn – Artist

The Editorial Page staff includes:
Doug Floyd — Editorial page editor
Gary Crooks – Editorial page writer
Rebecca Nappi – Editorial Page writer
Lynn Swanbom — Editorial page copy editor

The editorial assistant staff includes:
Mary Beth Donelan — Administrator
Rainey Wilson — Editorial assistant
Marissa Hipp — 7 editorial assistant
Sherry Adkins — Editorial assistant
Tracy Poindexter — Editorial assistant
To be hired — Receptionist

The photo staff includes:
Larry Reisenouer — Photo editor
Liz Kishimoto – Assistant photo editor
Brian Plonka — Photographer
Dan Pelle — Photographer
Christoper Anderson — Photographer
Jesse Tinsley — Photographer
Kathy Plonka — Photographer
Bart Rayniak — Photographer
To be hired — Photographer

The Sports staff is unchanged.

Journalism — not just for the ‘professionals’ any longer. Was it ever?

By Mick Gregory

Instead of a lecture from a biased liberal reporter who dropped out of college, citizen journalists create conversation. How often have you heard liberals attacking Dr Laura Schlessinger‘s credintials?

How about the credentials of your everyday journalist hack?

Peter Jennings didn’t go to college. Come to think of it, how about Dan Rather? I believe he attended Sam Houston State. Not much bragging about that.

Those are liberals, that’s why you don’t hear about their lack of education.

Michael Savage has multiple degrees including a doctorate. Bill O’Reilly has a BA and Master’s Degree. You don’t read much about that in the mainstream media.

Journalism is no longer a career left just to the “professionals,” author and media entrepreneur Dan Gillmor said Tuesday at ASU.

Gillmor, founder of “the Gillmor Gang” and the Citizen Media Law Project with Harvard University and the University of California-Berkeley, said journalism is shifting as digital technology allows readers to become spot-news reporters.

“We can all be media creators now,” Gillmor said. “With everyone walking around with a digital camera in their cell phone, it changes things.”

He pointed to the recent bridge collapse in Minnesota for an example.

Gillmor said many people fled the scene in the moments after the collapse Aug. 2. But others pulled out their cell phone cameras and ran toward the catastrophe to take pictures.

“That person did what I like to call a random act of journalism,” Gillmor said. “Professional journalists or not, all of us will have a chance to do these random acts at some point.”

He said digital technology has empowered citizens to document some of the most historic events in recent years. Flight passengers on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, made phone calls and sent text messages minutes before crashing in the World Trade Center.

“Just imagine if they had the technology to send video from inside the plane,” Gillmor said.

He also said the authentic sound of gunshots fired on the Virginia Tech campus were captured by a student recording with a cell phone.

“The change in media is fast and amazing,” Gillmor said.
Should citizens sit on their hands and wait for the “professional journalistis?”

He said the process and order of print journalism has already changed. Newspapers that used to hit driveways once a day now publish minute-by-minute reports online. And he said citizen or community journalists are furthering this change, with major contributions.

Gillmor defines citizen journalists as everyday people who serve as their own reporters and contribute to traditional news by setting up Web sites and capturing videos or pictures of newsworthy events.

The emergence of citizen media is transforming news from lecture to conversation, Gillmor said. Internet, cell phones, digital cameras and immediate access to computerized tools are transforming how, and by whom, news is made and consumed.

“The question we should be asking is not so much who is the journalist anymore, but more so, what is journalism?” Gillmor said.

Many of us are questioning why journalists are considered professionals? Are bus drivers and garbage collectors professionals?