Mark Potts elucidates a criticism of pack journalism that we’ve been expressing for some time: Why do news organizations send so many people to cover the same event? Potts observes that the Tribune Company “had 14 reporters, columnists and photogs at this year’s Super Bowl, even though neither Super Bowl team came from a city where Tribune actually has a newspaper.” Tribune Co. has apparently wised up and is consolidating some sports beats. Potts also points to the Dayton Daily News, which recently forced its Cincinnati Reds beat reporter into retirement. Potts estimates the paper was spending about $250,000 a year for the 37-year veteran to cover a baseball team 55 miles away that was already being covered by the AP. Perhaps that money would be better used to double up on coverage of local sports, although Potts doubts that’s what’ll happen.
We feel the same way whenever we watch a political convention or a Presidential press conference. Hundreds of journalists travel from far away, stay at expensive hotels and drink top-shelf booze to report the same things everyone can already see on TV. Is it possible that Super Bowl trips are used as rewards for treasured staffers? Could a couple of nice dinners out or a $1,000 bonus accomplish the same objective at less cost? We’re just asking.
Although we outsource most of our layoff coverage to the vastly superior work of Erica Smith, we occasionally see news that merits a comment. Such is the case in San Diego, where anyone who thought Platinum Equity would be the white knight to preserve jobs at the Union-Tribune should have those dreams dashed by the latest round of layoffs. The new owner cut 112 jobs this week on top of 192 announced shortly after Platinum assumed control in May. That means Platinum has laid off nearly 30% of the U-T’s workforce in less than four months. The story on the U-T website reads like a press release, mixing news of the job cuts with upbeat talk about investments in new pagination systems and improvements in local reporting. There is no effort to analyze the impact of Platinum Equity’s ownership on the staff or the product they produce, and no comments about the human impact. Perhaps that’s being held for a day two story.
We also have to give the Journal News of Westchester County a nod for their innovative idea of firing all 288 employees and inviting them to re-apply for 218 jobs. It’s not layoff, it’s a job fair! Seriously, the company plans to make all rehiring decisions final by the week of August 24, which means that managers must conduct 218 interviews within the next two weeks. Just shoot us. Fortunately, August is a slow week in the publishing business.
Journalism Online, LLC, the company formed by Steven Brill to help newspapers charge for content, said 506 publications have now signed up for its affiliate network. In a press release carefully crafted to avoid the gaze of antitrust regulators, the company said its customers are eyeing annual charges of $50 to $100 per subscriber “with little diminution of overall page views or online ad revenue.” Neat trick.
Sites with one million monthly page views can expect to earn an additional $5 million to $10 million annually through reader revenue, which figures out to about 40 to 80 cents per page view. Wow, if any plan can generate 40 cents per page view, sign us up! Journalism Online was cautious to stress that each individual publisher will make its own decisions about what, and whether, to charge. “We’re giving them all the dials to turn…but they will be the ones turning the dials,” Brill said.
Perhaps the best argument we’ve seen against citizen journalism is the parade of crazies showing up to criticize the Obama health care plan. The thought that some of these people could acquire a following is truly unsettling. Sacramento Bee cartoonist Rex Babin illustrates this brilliantly, provoking the usual rash of political diatribes.
This entry was posted on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 11:29 am and is filed under Best/Worst, BusinessModel, Circulation, Citizen Journalism, Future of Journalism, Layoffs, Local news, NewMedia, Newspapers, Solutions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.