There’s good news and there’s bad news:
The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday announced plans to cut 250 positions
across the company, including 150 positions in editorial, in a new
effort to bring expenses into line with declining revenue. In a further
cost-cutting step, the newspaper will reduce the number of pages it
publishes each week by 15%.
“You all know the paradox we find ourselves in,” Times Editor Russ Stanton
said in a memo to the staff. “Thanks to the Internet, we have more
readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history. But
also thanks to the Internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we
have less money.”
Los Angeles Times to cut 250 jobs, including 150 from news staff,
By Michael A. Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer,
July 3, 2008
One reason for these cuts is the housing downturn in California:
fewer real estate ads.
But there are deeper reasons:
Announcements of hundreds of reductions were issued only last week
by dailies in Boston, San Jose, Detroit and elsewhere. Among Tribune
newspapers, the Baltimore Sun said it would cut about 100 positions
by early August and the Hartford Courant announced plans to cut about
50 newsroom positions. The New York Times and the Washington Post both
instituted layoffs or buyouts to reduce their staffs this year.
Besides the changes in the newspaper industry, Tribune carries the burden
of about $1 billion in annual payments on its debt, much of which it
took on to finance the $8.2-billion buyout.
Sure, it’s happening everywhere.
But the L.A. Times is one of the best sources of journalism around.
Why did somebody find it worthwhile to buy it out just to load it
up with debt and force layoffs?
Whether this newspaper was targetted or not, the handwriting is on the
wall for fishwraps.
They’ll either adapt to the Internet or die.
I suspect many of them will die.
That means we’ll lose many of our traditional sources of real reporting.
Fortunately, some new sources are arising,
such as Talking Points Memo,
which bit into the Justice Department scandals and hung on like a bulldog.
Yet blogs like that thus far have a tiny fraction of the resources of
big newspapers like the L.A. Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
There’s going to be a time of unsettlement of the fishwrap plains
while the new shops in cyberspace put down roots into the old country.
And we won’t have ready access to either the remaining existing newspapers
worldwide or to the new online sources of reporting unless we have a
Yet another reason that net neutrality is important.
Yet another reason
not to let the telcos get away with retroactive immunity.
the telcos currently paying off Congress
are the same companies that want to squelch net neutrality.
If they can get away with handing over every bit to the NSA yesterday,
why would they stop at squelching your P2P today?