Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A hard look

Rick Edmonds has been listening to the reasons for MediaNews' ever-growing layoffs and cutbacks, and he's not buying it.

Yes, times are tough. But the latest draconian cuts they are imposing on employees and readers are going largely to service the ridiculous levels of debt they had the bad judgment to take on.

The Poynter media business analyst argues that public statements simply blaming the changing face of journalism are part of refusal to acknowledge their own culpbility for the economic woes facing giants like MediaNews and the Tribune Co.

Still, I think operators like Zell and Singleton are squishy where others are forthright on the concurrent need to keep heft and quality in the print product and invest aggressively in new digital operations. Frankly, I don't think they have the money to do it -- because the banker has to be paid first.

Comparing, for example the Washington Post Co., Edmonds finds that the Post generated more than three times the revenue of MediaNews, yet their debt payments were less than one-sixth of the $80 million paid out by MediaNews in 2007.

Clearly, there's no easy way out of this mess. But it would be refreshing, if not encouraging, for the powers-that-be to take an honest look at the situation, instead of constantly blaming the rank and file workers.


Anonymous said...

If any other industry operated like these guys they'd be out of business...oh wait a lot of 'em are.

Anonymous said...

What worries me more is that Singleton will preside over the largest meltdown of a media company in the history of business.

And he'll be kicked upward for it.



Len Cutler said...

A lot of journalists I've talked to are almost shell-shocked over the inverse relationship between MediaNews' fortunes and the health of journalism, or the success of their newspapers.