Journalism Today: We Must Cut the Thing that Makes Us Money

Fuck these guys.

For decades, the Newhouse chain of papers, which includesThe Times-Picayune, was famous in newspaper circles for its “pledge,” as it was known to employees. The pledge stated, “No full-time, non-represented, regular employee will ever be laid off because of economic conditions or because of the introduction of new technology.” The pledge was rescinded in February 2010.

The fear in the T-P newsroom this week has been that the paper would follow “the Michigan model.” In Michigan, Newhouse cut the print frequency of several state papers, wrapping them into“MLive.com” — the website that serves as the papers’ online partners, much asNOLA.com is the online partner ofThe Times-Picayune.

It was MLive.com that first rolled outthe internally despised “yellow journalism” design that was recently rolled out with great fanfare by NOLA.com. Slammed by readers, the “yellow journalism” template has also been unpopular with the reporters whose work appears there.

Most alarming, according to newsroom sources, is the fact that Newhouse’s revamp of MLive.com also brought the destruction of the print version of theAnn Arbor [Mich.] News, a 174-year-old paper that served a metro area of about 350,000 people. Four months after the announcement of the paper’s shuttering, Newhouse rolled outAnnArbor.com, leaving the city with only a web version of its familiar newspaper.

Look, right now very, very few newspaper “company” executives have any idea what the fuck they’re doing, and instead of letting newspapers do what they’re good at and break even or make small profits, they’re determined to flail around and blither about “new technologies and changing tastes” and make excuses for killing off their product. I do not get it anymore. I used to think this was just about money, and while newspapers make money they don’t make ENOUGH money, but what’s happening to the Times-Pic is destroying something that madeunexpected amounts of money last year, so someone please explain to me why you’d want to mess with that.

I work on the Internet. I like the Internet. I think the Internet has been awesome for journalism. But that doesn’t mean the Internet has to be the only thing we do. If people like a paper and read a paper, buy a paper, and if people advertise in a paper, why not have a fucking paper?

– The Times-Picayune remains profitable. As recently as the beginning of this year, the paper was paying bonuses. Staffers got bonuses at the end of 2010 and 2011 as the result of unexpected profitability.

For God’s sake, do you know how many people would kill to be making a profit AT ALL right now? And you’re destroying the thing that is making you money. When customers and staffers return your contempt in kind, don’t you dare be surprised.

Schmucks.

A.

7 thoughts on “Journalism Today: We Must Cut the Thing that Makes Us Money

  1. adrastos says:

    I learned the terrible news from you, A. Thanks, I guess. Great way to start off the day…

    Like

  2. mass says:

    It’s the way of bid bidness. They’re just guessing right now, just like on Wall Street. If the Facebook IPO shows us anything, it’s that the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street and MBA-holders are about as bright as any Lucky Dog vendor, only with better connections.
    Short-term gimmicks to generate a boost in profit to be quickly and ruthlessly harvested and banked by “big bidness” hotshots, who retire to their fucking Mandeville McMansions and let the working stiffs figure out why their 401ks are worth 40 percent less than they were last year.

    Like

  3. mass says:

    Oh, and click on over to Brilliant at Breakfast for a rundown on how the past 3 CEOs of HP failed their way to great riches.
    HP is a disaster and about to dump 27,000 humans onto the unemployment rolls.
    The stock price for the disaster that is HP ticked up on the news, making it very likely that Meg Whitman can earn a $6 million bonus this year. What’s 27,000 unemployed slobs compared to a $6 million payday?!?! Shoulda gone to Bidness School!

    Like

  4. driftglass says:

    Enough is never enough

    Like

  5. MapleStreet says:

    On Target !
    May I add that when I get a printed newspaper, I can digest the information in 15 to 30 minutes for a moderately sized newspaper. When I go on the web, the intent of the web page design strongly appears to keep me on the site (reading their advertisements?). Clicking on links to headlines that are made to look good (that is, don’t match the actual story). Waiting ages for pages to load (usually because of the delay in getting scripts and ads rather than the time needed to load the story), etc. MUCH LESS EFFICIENT.

    Like

  6. Henry Holland says:

    I’ve been a reader of the Los Angeles Times since the early 70’s. As recently as five years ago it used to take me my whole lunch break to read what I wanted to in the paper. Now, the paper is so thin, I can do it in 20 minutes.
    I loathe the online version of the LAT (and the NYT and the Guardian and …) because a) they use the pathetic one sentence > paragraph break format; b) this causes decent sized articles to spread out over 6 or 7 pages, pages with the problems that MapleStreet detailed.

    Like

  7. Jado says:

    The objective of persecution is persecution; the objective of torture is torture; the objective of power is power.
    THE OBJECTIVE OF BUSINESS IS BUSINESS. Cause we have slid sideways into Bizarro world where it is preferable to kill something profitable.
    There are no ulterior motives. These things happen because they are permitted to happen.

    Like

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