Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gannett cuts -- coming to a paper near you

My former employer, Bloomberg News, adds to the latest on the woes of newspaperland with the tidbit that Gannett's latest round of cuts won't affect USA Today. Oh, goody! We can look forward to an even thinner local newspaper. All you worried hotel guests can breathe again. You'll still be getting the quality USA Today you've come to expect.

Just as a reminder, Gannett already cut 1,000 employees in August.

Here's what really stinks: there's no one else left to cover your local news.

Think about it. Gannett became the biggest newspaper publisher in the country by buying papers in small and mid-sized U.S. cities. I'm not saying how or why, but in many towns, the Gannett paper remained as the town's sole paper.

Now that Gannett is cutting back staff -- perhaps as many as 4,000 employees, including the earlier cuts -- what's left of your local paper? And will you want to read it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"a `cesspool' of useless information"

David Carr writes about troubling implications for the news industry. Read it and weep. My husband & I were talking about this very issue before I came across his analysis of recent cutbacks in newspaper land -- from Gannett to the Christian Science Monitor to the Star-Ledger.

Here's the part of the problem for newspapers: with print subscriptions declining, advertisers move elsewhere. With lower ad revenue, the newspapers trim jobs. With fewer reporters and editors, their product is less appealing to consumers. Who cancel their subscriptions. It goes on and on. Looking at the growing side of the business -- the Web -- yes, it's great more people get their news online, but online advertising doesn't pay enough to support their staff.

My forecast for the future: consumers will get their news from blogs, which increasingly will have less material to write about because -- guess what? -- no one will be able to pay journalists. We will become a nation of fluff and rumor readers. And the sad part is that 99% of consumers won't understand what has been lost.

Monday, October 27, 2008

writing in a recession

Useful post from The Urban Muse about writing (as a freelancer) during a recession. Will a recession provide more work for independent writers? Or less? And how are newspapers feeling the economic slowdown? Recent reports indicate that the advertising slide for Gannett and others is getting steeper. It's no fun to see your local papers cut staff and coverage to counter lower ad revenue, but perhaps the silver lining will be the need for more freelance-written articles.