By paulgillin | November 10, 2008 - 7:56 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Google

E.W. Scripps Co. joins the growing ranks of newspapers that are cutting broadly across their portfolios. The company will lay off about 400 people as it struggles with profits that plunged from $16.6 million a year ago to a loss of $21 million in the most recent quarter. Editor & Publisher reports that layoffs have already happened at Scripps-owner papers in Knoxville, Tenn. and Evansville, Ind. The National Press Photographers Association has more details on where the cuts are coming, including elimination of 20% of the newsroom in Ventura, Calif. Other newspaper holding companies that have cut broadly in recent months include Gannett and A.H. Belo.

Looks Like a Newspaper, Smells Like a Newspaper

They’re having a good old-fashioned hockey brawl in Toronto over the publication at left. It’s called Our Toronto (no, you won’t find it online anywhere) and it’s a quarterly communication from the mayor’s office that looks an awful lot like a newspaper. Or at least some city council members and watchdog groups think it’s awful. They use terms like “travesty,” “offensive propaganda” and “Pravda” to describe what Mayor David Miller says is simply an honest attempt to inform citizens about what’s going on in their city.

Our Toronto will be mailed to residents’ homes and also¬†published online and translated into languages ranging from Chinese to Urdu. The editor is¬†city communications director Kevin Sack and Mayor Miller will have a column in each issue. The cost to the taxpayers is about $850,000 a year.

Debate centers upon whether this is a propaganda sheet masking as a legitimate news organ or simply a propaganda sheet. Critics complain that all the content is positive about the mayor, but Mayor Miller says he’s simply doing what every other elected official does in providing facts and updates to his constituents. In any case, it’s interesting to see somebody getting into the newspaper business these days.


Too little, too late. The American Press Institute will host a “Crisis Summit” for the newspaper industry this week. Executives will gather behind closed doors to ponder what to do to reverse the industry’s downward spiral. Session leader James Shein says one of the purposes of the head-knock will be to “illuminate for newspaper industry leaders the urgency of their situation.” If any of those leaders still need to be illuminated in this respect, then shareholders should be demanding their heads on a plater.

Barack Obama’s win caused a big one-day surge in newspaper sales as people scrambled to get souvenirs of the historic event. One opportunist was asking $2,000 on eBay for a copy of the Charlotte Observer, of all things. Perhaps attendees at the API Crisis Summit can come up with ways to create more big news events so they can sell out at the newsstand and make a killing on online auctions.

Mark Gunther tells the encouraging story of a nonprofit organization that is funding entrepreneurs to solve pressing social problems, including the decline of traditional media. The group is called Ashoka, and among its investments are several citizen journalism organizations around the world. Gunther has details and links.

And Finally…

Sam Zell could be stuck with the Chicago Cubs for a while. The Wall Street Journal reports that the real estate billionaire-turned-newspaper magnate may be foiled in his effort to sell the storied franchise for $1 billion, the victim of a plunging real estate market and dried-up sources of capital. So Zell, who has said he’s not a baseball fan, could end up with a 50% stake in America’s Most Frustrating Team for some time to come. Perhaps that was on his mind when this photo was snapped during Game One of the National League Division series, where Chicago was swept in three games by a Dodger team that had won 13 fewer games during the regular season.



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1 Comment

  1. November 12, 2008 @ 11:27 am

    Re Our Toronto Newspaper
    The fear is that like totalitarian newspapers this will be nothing more than a political booster of Mayor David Miller. Again it calls into question the competence of the man. This mayor is bringing in higher taxes for all on the basis of need. At the same time he can spend over 800,000 dollars for his version of Pravda (TheTruth) and 70 million dollars for bicycle lanes in town. All of this from a mayor that is the largest slum lord in Canada (Wfive) and from a mayor that has neither the will or the competence to suppress the criminal gangs that are the source of gun crime in the city. No wonder there is a credibility gap when he speaks. Bicycle paths may buy green votes for his next run as mayor in 2010 but it offers nothing but a bitter brew for the GTA as a whole.

    Posted by zeister