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Monday, October 23, 2006


Howard Kurtz writes in his Media Notes at the Washington Post web site:

"In recent months, executives have announced staff cutbacks of 19 percent at the Dallas Morning News and 17 percent at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The new owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer -- which cut its newsroom by 15 percent last year -- told his staff Friday that further layoffs are "unavoidable" because of plunging revenues. At The Washington Post, 8 percent of the newsroom staff recently took early retirement offers. All of which means fewer bodies to pore over records at City Hall, the statehouse or federal agencies. Newspapers and networks face the same dilemma: too many people doing other things with their time, from Web-surfing to podcast listening, or simply losing interest in news altogether. Some of these customers are consuming the companies' wares online, which is great for exposure but doesn't produce the revenue needed to support long-form reporting. If this erosion continues, it would be bad news for serious journalism, and good news for corrupt politicians."

In his piece Kurtz review some recent scandals discovered by traditional media newsrooms and it seems that the message is clear, but... are we sure that just keeping or increasing the newsroom staff numbders our newspapers will do a better job?

Of course that you need journalists, but for what?

To re-package the same news from the same sources?

To attend the same boring press conferences?

To publish today the same news that our readers knew YESTERDAY?

To produce pages and pages of commodity information with no value added?

To edit pages and pages of listings that could go directly to our web site?

To attend long and badly planned news meetings?

To expend hours and hours in front of our computers?

To work with not real feed-back from your editors?

To work with no time to think?

The real challenge in our industry is not how many people do we need, but to know how to change the rules and traditions of a newsroom management system that does not work anymore.

Firtst fix the newsroom management system, and then let´s discuss how many people do we need.

And then we will not have any problem to keep or find the best talent.

Today´s problem is the opposite: newspapers are loosing or not attracting talented people because our newsrooms are not creative places to work, to discuss, and to dream.

I am not worried about the people that leave (many of them with great early retirement packages) but about the people that stay in our newsrooms to work under the same conditions.


Anonymous said...

I believe the stodgy editors downgrading the quality of the Web and bloggers will not change. I agree its their management. They make no effort to see that the online news is much more truthful with all the ugly details.

Great blog. See mine on the same subject,

12:52 PM  

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