Friday, May 8, 2009

Journalism News Roundup

Instead of just waxing poetic on on theme, I'd end the week with a roundup of news stories affecting our chosen trade.

The SFIst blog is reporting that more job cuts are coming at the San Francisco Chronicle. Among those gone are the environmental reporter, the computers/technology reporter and the 2 people responsible for Chronicle Watch, which covers the city's neighborhoods - closely.

Speaking of layoffs, one day after buying the San Diego Union-Tribune, new owner Platinum Equity laid off 182 employees -- including 50 in the newsroom -- or 18% of its workforce, according to "[T]he ultimate goal here is to make only those cuts necessary to stabilize the business, and then to focus on growing revenue," Platinum Equity partner Louis Samson told the Union-Tribune in an interview last week.

The Poynter Online blog reports that while the Star-Ledger has not resorted to layoffs, it did implement a program where yearly bonuses will now be included in base pay and that pay will be cut. "The first $40,000 of your new combined annualized income will be cut by 5%. If you make more than $40,000, your next $40,000 in income up to $80,000 will be cut by 10%. Any annualized income over $80,000 will be cut by 15%," said a memo to employees. The paper is also requiring employees to pay more for health care insurance. Management blamed continued deteriorating ad revenues for the move.

We all have followed the negotiations between the New York Times Co. and the Newspaper Guild at the Boston Globe. A deal was made at the 11th hour, but the Guardian's Dan Kennedy asks how long will the Globe be safe? It's the same question I asked when I heard the deal had been struck.

I have become an avid reader of the Baltimore Brew blog. Among other things, it is covering what I see as the slow dismantling of the newspaper that used to be my hometown Baltimore Sun. The May 3 post on the Brew announced that the Sun would no longer publish Letters to the Editor, since the person overseeing that had been cut in the latest round of layoffs. But on May 6, the Brew reported that the Letters section is back.

Let's file this last one under "what are they thinking?" The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has spent $1 million on a new year-long ad campaign to encourage customers to take a digital break and actually read the print edition of the Sunday newspaper, reports The paper has cut 30% of its staff.

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