Thursday, August 14, 2008

Deja Vu?

"Advertising at the emaciated newspaper has shriveled to historically low levels. Its staff has shrunken to a fifth of its former size. Its readership has fallen by almost half. The presses have been shipped out. The building is up for sale..."

So goes the story of a newspaper in decline over the past decade. No, not the Press-Telegram. This one's the San Mateo County Times, also a MediaNews paper. As documented by Alan Mutter, the story is disturbingly familiar to anyone working in LANG.

The 10-person staff is about a fifth of the 48 editorial employees who worked there when MediaNews bought the paper a dozen years ago.

...the shrinking paper and its website are backfilled with news from MediaNews papers in other counties – including those located on the other side of the bay. With fewer staffers now than two months ago, local stories will be scarcer than ever.
Although economics are often cited as the cause for the rampant cuts, Mutter also notes that reducing content was the MediaNews model from day one:
Dean’s forward-thinking idea back then was to acquire and consolidate neighboring newspapers in a geographic area, so he could enhance the value of the assets by eliminating redundancies to pare costs to boost profits. He also had plans to share content among papers to avoid having multiple correspondents covering the same story, but there were hopes that at least a portion of the savings would go toward doing some of stories that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten done.
The question then is how much of a role does the loss of local identity and content play in the declining circulation - and the subsequent revenues that are directly tied to circulation.

It's entirely possible that today's economic environment is in no small part a refutation of the consolidation model. The market has spoken ... is anyone going to listen?

A note from The Stress-Telegram:

We (Southern California Media Guild) opened this blog up to unmoderated comments — unlike most of the other media blogs out there — as an experiment. Because we represent journalists, we understand the need for transparency and strive to maintain an open dialogue with our members and other LANG workers.

Right now, that experiment is failing. The last few days have seen a deluge of anonymous personal attacks and other comments that don't reflect the professionalism of our members or our industry. Looking at our web stats, it's obvious that the majority of these comments are the work of a small but active minority of our visitors. Nonetheless, it's a problem for us.

If the trend continues we will return to a moderated system. It's unfortunate that a few can ruin it for the many, but we won't allow our blog to become an outlet for personal attacks or insults, and spam.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the "we" is suppose to be the rank-and-file folks. not some "blog administrator." it might be best to close it down, IF IT'S GOING TO DISTRACT "us" from our "mobilization" duties in torrance, woodland hills, pasadena, whittier, etc.