Journalists are at each other’s throats in the Windy City. It all started last Tuesday, when provocative Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti quit the paper after 17 years and only a few weeks after signing a lucrative three-year contract. Mariotti’s epiphany apparently was a trip to the Beijing Olympics, where he observed that most of the journalists in attendance were “there writing for Web sites.”
After resigning, Mariotti launched into attacks on his former employer and the newspaper business in general, which he said is dying. The Sun-Times and the Tribune probably won’t survive, he said. “To see what has happened in this business. … I don’t want to go down with it,” he told the Tribune.
Mariotti has clearly made some enemies with his tough-guy style, and critics didn’t hesitate to pile on. Film critic Roger Ebert abandoned his usual soft style to post a blistering open letter, concluding, “On your way out, don’t let the door bang you on the ass.” CBS Chicago caught up with several of Mariotti’s colleagues, who didn’t mince words. “We wish Jay well and will miss him — not personally, of course — but in the sense of noticing he is no longer here, at least for a few days,” said Sun-Times editor Michael Cooke. White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen chipped in “Am I enjoying this? Yes.” There are more good quotes in the CBS account.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have lost four in a row, and the team’s NL Central division lead has shrunk to four games. There is no apparent correlation with Mariotti’s departure.
San Juan Star Gave No Clue of Shutdown Plans
Here’s the front page of the last issue of the San Juan Star, which shut down abruptly last Friday after nearly 50 years. This leaves the island of Puerto Rico with no English-language daily. The paper gave no indication that it would cease publishing. On page three of that day’s issue, there was a small announcement that frequency would be scaled back to five days a week (above right). Employees said they were unaware of the change in plans until a general announcement was made.
More proof that adversity makes strange bedfellows: The Miami Herald, Palm Beach County Sun-Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post will share basic news stories with each other while continuing to compete vigorously in the South Florida market they serve. The experiment will last for three months, after which the participants will decide if they want to continue.
The Des Moines Register has laid off 12 staffers and frozen another 11 open positions. The publisher is being unusually open about who’s losing jobs. They include a 30-year veteran farm reporter and a top feature writer. Daily circulation is down 20% since 1994 and Sunday circulation is off nearly 30%.
After trying to make a go of it as a daily newspaper for five years, the Noblesville (Inc.) Daily Times gave up the ghost last week and shut its doors, idling 24 full-time employees. Owner Schurz Corp. had tried to sell the paper for the last six months but was unable to find a buyer. The Daily Times had increased from weekly to daily frequency in 2003. The company also shut down the twice-monthly Westfield Times.
Apparently, a lot of central California residents think that just because the Modesto Bee will now be printed in Sacramento, the paper is going away. Its editor says that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Arizona Republic is shedding 27 newsroom employees on top of 35 pressroom workers laid off earlier this month. Gannett Blog claims the paper has 2,700 employees, which makes these reductions a drop in the bucket compared to the typical industry cutbacks of about 10% of the workforce. Blog visitors say the mood at the Republic is horrible. “Morale here is so low people who weren’t offered buyouts congratulated those who took them,” writes one.
Following the lead by several papers recently to reduce “soft” news and features, the News & Record of Greensboro, N.C. will cut its second editorial page and eliminate its dedicated book reviews section. Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson doesn’t mince words: “We won’t even attempt to pretend that these changes will give you a bigger, better opinion section. They won’t. And you know that.”
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 4th, 2008 at 6:43 am and is filed under Business News, Circulation, Future of Journalism, Layoffs, Local news, NewMedia, Newspapers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.