By paulgillin | August 26, 2008 - 10:09 am - Posted in Facebook, Google, Hyper-local, Solutions

The Sacramento and Fresno Bee newspapers offered buyouts to employees and held out the possibility of layoffs if unspecified cost-reduction goals aren’t met. Sacramento’s buyout offer covers 55 percent of its full-time employees and a smaller number of part-timers, including most editorial employees. The Fresno Bee‘s offer is open to most of its full-time workers. The publisher called the current situation, “some of the worst economic times we’ve faced.” Both papers cut staff just two months ago.

The Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner will merge news operations, with the editor of the Sun running the show. News, copy desk, design, layout and pagination for both papers will move to Gainesville. Executives at both papers stressed their intent to remain committed to their local communities. However, they also said jobs will be cut at each newspaper, although specifics haven’t been determined. (via Romenesko).

Management and union executives are cooperating in Philadelphia as the owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News seeks to cut staff amid a growing financial crisis. Responding to union concerns, the owners are targeting newsroom managers for cuts instead of unionized reporters. No numbers were specified. Standard & Poor’s recently reported, that owner Philadelphia Media Holdings (PMH) was trading at less than 50 cents on the dollar, meaning that the risk of bankruptcy is high. PMH missed a key interest payment in June, forcing it into a forbearance agreement with its creditors that lasts through September 10th.

Layoffs continue to hit the heartland. The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle and Kansas City Star are both undertaking buyout programs. The Eagle is offering a severance program to anyone who will accept it. The Star is offering up to 26 weeks of pay, based upon seniority. It laid off employees in June and wouldn’t rule out the possibility of more cuts if unspecified goals weren’t reached.


Usually curmudgeonly commentator Alex Beam of the Boston Globe praises The Christian Science Monitor as a possible model for the future of journalism. A near-death experience in the 1990s, when the Christian Science church attempted and failed to expand into broadcast, taught the publisher to focus. Today, the Monitor is just 20 daily pages, with a nice mix of news analysis and opinion and a focus on international coverage. It’s a worldly read for intelligent people. Of course, it helps that the church subsidizes over half of the paper’s operating expenses. The Monitor aims “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind,” says Editor John Yemma, who used to work at the Globe. “It’s humane, and it’s committed. We are a newspaper of hope.” (via Romenesko).

GateHouse Media Inc. and American Community Newspapers (ACN) could become the third and fourth newspaper companies to be delisted from a major stock exchange this year.  ACN disclosed on Friday that it has been warned that it may be delisted from the American Stock Exchange for failing to file a 10-Q report. ACN publishes more than 100 community papers and shoppers. The company has until Sept. 4 to file a report telling how it will come into compliance. GateHouse has been notified by the New York Stock Exchange that it could be delisted if it doesn’t get its stock price over $1 a share (it’s at 60 cents now) and maintain a market capitalization above $75 million.

Yahoo Japan is experimenting with user-generated editorial content. The Japanese Yahoo News page now features large amounts of material suggested and edited by readers. It’s a variation on Wikipedia and Google’s Knol, which are two experiments in community journalism. Unlike those two examples, though, Yahoo requires user editors to apply and take a test before they can contribute. (via Editors Weblog)

The Editor of the McDowell (N.C.) News remembers fondly the days when a good monkey story merited a trip to Tokyo and a phalanx of support staff. Now all people want to read about is presidential candidates and their love children. Sheesh.

And Finally…

Wine Spectator Award logo

Editors at the annoyingly elitist Wine Spectator must be red-faced after their magazine bestowed a coveted Award of Excellence on a non-existent restaurant named Osteria L’Intrepido. The prank was dreamed up by Robin Goldstein, author of The Wine Trials, as part of a research project. Goldstein concocted a website featuring a menu assembled from recipes found in an Italian cookbook and submitted it as an entry in the magazine’s contest, along with a $250 entry fee. To twist the knife a little, he put together a reserve wine list “largely chosen from among some of the lowest-scoring Italian wines in Wine Spectator over the past few decades.” His blog entry lists some of the reviews Wine Spectator published of his choices:

“Sweet and cloying. Smells like bug spray.”

“Smells barnyardy and tastes decayed.”

“Turpentine. Medium-bodied, with hard, acidic character.”

These reviews apparently missed the fact-checkers at the magazine, which awarded it a top honor anyway. We suppose $250 will buy you a lot these days.



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