Monday, October 20, 2008

Now this doesn't bode well for any of us... *

In a meeting Monday with the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, MediaNews honcho Dean Singleton told attendees that they should examine outsourcing as much of their operations as possible.

"One thing we're exploring is having one news desk for all of our newspapers in MediaNews ... maybe even offshore."
If you're even an occasional visitor to the Stress-Telegram, you know about the contract negotiations between the staffers and management at the Long Beach Press-Telegram , 20 months of bargaining, pushing back against the pivotal issue that has brought us to near-impasse: the company's demand for outsourcing powers in all news departments, a proposal described by management as "providing flexibility" the company may need and not something that they're actually considering at this time.

Well, now we know. But we knew it all along, really.

Sure, there are those within LANG newsrooms (and elsewhere) who still think fears over outsourcing are contrived, and news operations will always be sacrosanct. The following Singleton quote may come as a shock.
"If you need to offshore it, offshore it."
Singleton said consultants have already recommended MediaNews begin moving editorial operations overseas - and as disturbing as that may be, one should not overlook the fact that MediaNews has apparently already invested time and money into analyzing the outsourcing of its news operations, with predictably sanguine results.

There are other voices, most commonly out of the newsrooms, that bemoan MediaNews' desperate quest for pre-internet era profit margins - and the declining quality of the barebones news operations being passed off to customers. Readers and advertisers know they're seeing less value for their money, and are responding accordingly.

Cutting quality further isn't going to improve the company's profitability, any more than you can save a sinking ship by throwing people overboard.

The bottom line here is that outsourcing is a very real concern, and it's going to take all of us together to convince the company that quality journalism has more value than journalism done on the cheap.

* ACES blasts Singleton:
"Some things just can't be measured in terms of money. It's easy to say that you'll save thousands of dollars by hiring overseas workers to edit your copy. It's not so easy to say how much that loss of credibility is going to cost you when they miss errors a local person would have caught. But cost you it will.
[snip]
"Newspapers are still the place to go for the authoritative word on your community. If we lose that authoritative voice, we may as well outsource our readership as well, because local readers, not to mention advertisers, won't find any value in what our publications have to say."

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think his speech speaks volumes about his thinking re newspapers: strip-mine them dry with cheap labor and leave the shrivelled remains to publishers who must play the MN musical chairs and editors that are too damned worried about their own survival to dare to tell Singleton that without the trained and qualified covering the news (news?? you say? what news?), MN won't be known for anything except regurgitated wire copy from two counties (countries?) over and holds no interest to the most devoted reader. (Oh, yeah, he's the AP Chairman, isn't he? Hmmm....)

Kick the watchdog of democracy to the curb – and all those Fourth Estate principles be damned!

(I don't sound angry, do I?)

Anonymous said...

And He's doing a great Job with AP!!
Everyone is dumping AP!!.

Everything Dean Singleton touches it rots!

He is a bad businessman, bad for journalism, bad for democracy and worst of all Un-American.

Anonymous said...

From Copydesk.org

" Newspapers are still the place to go for the authoritative word on your community. If we lose that authoritative voice, we may as well outsource our readership as well, because local readers, not to mention advertisers, won't find any value in what our publications have to say. "

Anonymous said...

Our " upper " septuagenarian management have been quietly saying to members take mangements outsourcing language and that " outsourcing is not gonna happen " is Bull SH*T !

How can the members take them seriously when they keep sticking their foot in their mouth ?

Anonymous said...

I wonder of they will outsource Leadership Long
Beach?

Then maybe some management will finally take a stand and go out with a bang.

Now is your window !

Anonymous said...

Old man Scudder should be ashamed about backing an Anti- American company.

Didn't he go through the WWI & WW2 ?

And He endorsed Obama, who is anti outsourcing !

Act like an American and Buy American !!!

Anonymous said...

dean. dean. dean.
go back to canada!

835 said...

Dean's most recent comments are a slap in the face to the journalists who toil paycheck-to-paycheck so MediaNews can continue reaping generous profits, gobbling up newspapers and publications across the country and helping pay for his $1 million DNC gala. This at the same time his cronies claim there's just no money for a 3 percent raise for PT workers, which, by point of fact, represents about .04 percent of his $1 million party price tag...

To steal a quote from the courageous Army lawyer Joseph Welch during the height of Sen. Joe McCarthy's commie witchhunt:

"Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last?"

Anonymous said...

As a (thankfully) former journalist, I find fellow journalists' handwringing over Dean Singleton's stingy approach to newspapering a waste of time and ignorance of the business - the man has no kinship or passion for the industry.

As a breeder of Angus cattle, I found a published photo of him in starched, ill-fitting and obviously brand-new denim pants while posed next to a cow to be ludicrous and certain proof that he is a only a pretender in life.

As a horseman, when I heard that he demanded that company execs come to his Colorado ranch and were required to ride horses with him, no matter their age or experience level, I knew he was no horseman himself, but a mean-spirited, small man who had found a petty way to prove his superiority (come on, Dean, let's you and me go horseback).

Finally, as someone who has faced a diagnosis of a terminal illness, I find it profoundly dissappointing that this petty little man has not chosen to embrace his humanity and try to elevate his fellow human beings, but rather is trying to rob them of their futures, as he apparently feels his has been robbed.

He is so small that he really doesn't merit discussion.

Anonymous said...

1) Dean and Canada? Might want to check that.
2) Offshoring local reporting and editing ... More easily said than done, but to muse ... Would the 1st Amendment protect MNG's offshore journalists covering routine corruption - sleazy water agencies and conflicts of interest in small, rotten LA County cities? Answer: It won't be necessary, as offshore journalists (add snarky double-finger quotes if you wish) won't undertake risky stories, and the jobs they occupy would displace stateside reporters and editors. Hence, nice, brief-strewn us-and-our-community newspapers - the only product LANG and other latter-day corporate models can support after endless staff reductions, page reductions, press reductions, management reductions et al and still somehow end up, wet and torn, in most retirees driveways by 9 a.m., most days). The raising of ever lower expectations ... This has long been the Gannett model: safe, cheap, blandly correct and saleable. The San Bernardino paper, its roots still drawing water from Gannett sand, naturally reflects this approach, while the wounded Daily News, once so irritating and satisfying in its quirky populism, has
become unrecognizable in purpose and course. Like the Daily News, the Press-Telegram always aspired to more, despite piling challenges, perhaps because of the latter's Knight Ridder basis (legacies matter), perhaps because it was always a better newspaper in its bones, and its decline is all the more painful because of it.

Len Cutler said...

He is so small that he really doesn't merit discussion.

Your words are certainly insightful, but I'm going to have to disagree. Not because anything you've said is wrong, but instead because of just how right your statements might be.

Like it or not, Dean Singleton holds a great deal of influence over journalism. That's particularly true here in Southern California. MediaNews is not a company that can be overlooked, no matter how much you may or may not respect the individuals guiding the company. Couple that with Singleton's position at the Associated Press, and he becomes the elephant in the room. "Respectable" journalists may not want to acknowledge him as one of their own, but ignoring proposals and statements that will potentially have a profound impact on journalism throughout the nation cannot be our response.

Sitting idly by, content in our moral superiority and years of experience as journalists, won't replace or prevent the cataclysmic changes facing our industry.

This is a perfect example of the need for a unified defense of the Fourth Estate, by everyone that stands to lose as a result of ideas like this one.