Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Dying Newspaper

The California Report Magazine

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If you work in the newsroom at the San Jose Mercury News, you were instructed by management to wait at home this morning. If you didn't get a call telling you that you'd lost your job, you could then come to work. Newspapers across California have suffered similar losses this week -- The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Daily News and the Long Beach Press Telegram are among them. We look at how the economic downturn, lost ad revenue and the Internet are changing the news business.

Rob Schmitz
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Judge Orders Reporter to Pay Fine For Refusing to Reveal Sources

A former USA Today reporter on Tuesday will have to start paying hundreds, then thousands of dollars in fines, out of her own pocket, for refusing to reveal sources.

A federal judge handed down the order Friday for defying a court order to reveal sources she used in articles about the U.S. government's investigation into anthrax attacks in 2001.

Starting at midnight on Tuesday, Toni Locy will have to pay $500 a day for a week, followed by $1,000 a day in the second week and $5,000 a day after that until she reveals the names of nearly a dozen sources she used in her stories, according to a contempt order filed by Federal Court Judge Reggie B. Walton. [Click for MORE]

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Friday, March 7, 2008

More From the Bad News Bearers

  • Cuts at the San Gabriel Valley News Group.
  • LAT associate editor bumped to features department.
  • Is the Long Beach P-T now a newspaper or a bureau?
  • NYT extends buyout application deadline to avoid layoffs.
  • San Jose Mercury News cuts 50 jobs, names two new editors.
  • MediaNews papers avoid layoffs as 107 staffers take buyouts.
  • L.A. Times buyout list is 'oversubscribed.'
  • Fifteen to 30 of the News Tribune's 225 employees will be cut.
  • News-Press, union negotiations crawling along.
  • Palm Beach Post to cut staff.
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    Assignment for March 10

    1) Remember to turn your clock AHEAD one hour on Sunday morning.

    2) Do exercise 11 on page 150 of the text. Don't miss the deadline.

    3) Consider doing an extra credit assignment. Anything offered to the student paper and accepted for publication gets double points.

    4) Continue gathering all your written work into a portfolio for presentation and one-on-one discussion on March 12.
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    Thursday, March 6, 2008

    Dan Rather, Sex God?

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    Wednesday, March 5, 2008

    Daily News Eliminates Sacramento Bureau

    Harrison Sheppard is returning to the Woodland Hills office, where he will do a mix of editing and reporting, the Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert says. Sheppard went up to Sacramento after the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. With the Sacramento editor of the San Jose Mercury News taking a buyout, the last Media News reporters left in the state capital will be Steve Harmon of the Contra Costa Times, Steve Geissinger of the Oakland Tribune and Edwin Garcia, Mike Zapler and Kimberly Kindy of the Mercury. But further cuts are expected.

    Also in LANGland: The Long Beach City Council heard from disgruntled Press-Telegram staffers yesterday and might consider pulling its advertising from the paper. Editor Rich Archbold warned that would be a mistake: "I can't think of a worse idea. We live by our advertising revenue and by circulation revenue." Press-Telegram, Stress-Telegram


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    Turn Off Your Television Now!

    And perhaps you should turn off your Internet, too! Don't say you weren't warned when the film "Network" was made more than 30 years ago. Sphere: Related Content

    Examiner Switches Focus to Local Web Sites

    The expansion of the San Francisco Examiner into 70 other cities stopped in city No. 3 (Baltimore) back in 2006. It seems billionaire owner Phil Anschutz has put the brakes on the expansion of the Examiner brand.

    But last week, the Examiner's parent company, Clarity Media Group of Denver, announced it had hired former AOL executive Michael Sherrod to run its Internet operations. David Schafer, who had been CEO of, was pushed aside to the job of Chief Operating Officer of Clarity Digital Group in order to make way for Schafer.

    Now LA Observed notes that has posted an ad at for "city editors" in 59 cities to post stories to local sites:
      City Editors will build by recruiting and managing a team of local content contributors. Candidates should have an established local network within the community and be able to demonstrate their strong local ties.
    Looks like Anschutz, who orginally had set his sights on being a print barron, has switched to the Internet. [SFPPC] Sphere: Related Content

    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    The Ledger Signs Deal to Buy The News Chief

    The New York Times-owned Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger today announced that it has reached an agreement with GateHouse Media to purchase certain assets of The News Chief, a newspaper that has published in Winter Haven since it was founded as The Florida Chief in 1911.

    The News Chief will continue to operate as a daily publication with a separate news staff and its own editorial board.

    Approximately 24 current News Chief personnel, primarily in the news, advertising and circulation areas, will be offered positions with the News Chief. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

    Initial L.A. Times Buyout List

    From LA Observed:
    This is the list going around the Los Angeles Times newsroom of staffers who applied for the buyout, whether nudged or not. Some applications may be declined, in theory, but publisher David Hiller has said previously that all who want to leave will get to go. [Click for the LIST] Sphere: Related Content

    Watching McClatchy

    As a leading indicator of the newspaper biz's health, what does the chain's bad news portend for the rest of the industry?

    Just two years ago, McClatchy Co. President and CEO Gary Pruitt boasted the sunniest disposition of all newspaper executives. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he toasted newspapers as "still among the best media businesses" as his firm's purchase of the Knight Ridder chain tripled its print holdings.

    Pruitt conceded that newspaper advertising had peaked in 2000, but he maintained that no competitors in local markets had held their audiences as well as newspapers. Far from being a "dying industry," wrote Pruitt, the newspapers were adding the "unduplicated reach of newspaper Web sites to newspaper readership" to grow their audiences.

    Since Pruitt's declaration, McClatchy stock has fallen, fallen, and then fallen some more. It's dropped about 75 percent in the past year and is now trading at less than $10. Last week, the McClatchy-owned Sacramento Bee reported that the company is taking a $1.47 billion write-down, this following a similar $1.37 billion write-down in November. [Click for MORE]

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    Newark Star-Ledger Cuts 365 Production Workers

    The Star-Ledger is planning to consolidate its two printing plants to offset economic losses, a move that could result in the elimination of some union jobs, employees were told yesterday.

    The plants, in Piscataway and Montville, employ roughly 600 full and part-time workers. The notifications were sent to 365 employees in five unions -- press operators, mailers, drivers, machinists and platemakers.

    "We have to save money by cutting our costs," said George Arwady, publisher of The Star-Ledger. "Revenues are falling." [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

    Journalists Aren't Happy, Industry Isn't Happy

    News executives should pay attention to what people in the profession are saying when they vent behind the cloak of anonymity.

    Earlier this month, Kiyoshi Martinez started an experimental website that gives journalists a chance to vent their feelings about their profession and their work lives. And have they ever. is a simple yet powerful concept: a gripe board where journalists are asked to say what's making them angry today. [Click for MORE]
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    The Journalist as Novelist of New York

    Wall Street Journal

    It's almost a disappointment to find Pete Hamill, legendary New York newspaper man, in this pristine, modern university office -- not a single tabloid on his desk, not a trace of newsprint on his fingertips. As a writer in residence at New York University, the 72-year-old seems far removed from the rough-and-tumble world of big-city journalism. When he tells me that he reads the New York papers only every couple of days online from his second home in Cuernavaca, Mexico, my heart sinks a little further. But you have to cut the guy some slack. The only person to have served as editor of both the New York Daily News and the New York Post, Mr. Hamill still has plenty of ink running through his veins: Over the past 40 years, he has produced 10 novels and two collections of short stories. [Click for MORE]

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    A Correction of Breathtaking Proportions

    Click image to enlarge.

    For more details, click HERE and HERE.

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    They Won't Go Quietly

    To the grim satisfaction of many at the Chicago Sun-Times, both Conrad Black and David Radler are now doing penance after a thieving ownership that drained financial resources and creative energy from the newspaper for a decade. But there's little joy in the newsroom, where 40 familiar faces — both well-liked veterans and promising newer staff — are gone, too, after a brutal round of layoffs kicked off the year.

    "It's like an exercise in anorexia," says Hedy Weiss, Sun-Times theater and dance critic, who joined the paper 24 years ago. "Each time you think you can't get more skeletal, you do."

    Yet despite the constant drip of discouraging news about the publication's future, she and many other longtime employees remain loyal to the scrappy paper. They feel an emotional pull to its mission and don't wish to participate in an exodus of talent. But mostly, they just love their work, with a passion that arguably may be blinding them to reality. [Click for MORE]

    > Conrad Black reports to Florida prison

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    Assignment for March 5

    1) Continue to review your AP Stylebook.

    2) Consider doing an extra credit assignment. If you offer the story to the campus newspaper and it gets published, you get double points.

    3) Read the Kurt Vonnegut bio at .

    4) Do exercise 1 on page 147. Yes, style, spelling and grammar count. Don't miss the deadline.

    5) Continue preparing your portfolios for one-on-one sessions during the class prior to Spring Break. Your portfolios need to include all in-class and homework writing assignments. Collect them in a three-ring binder. Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, March 3, 2008

    The Almost-20th Anniversary HerEx Reunion

    Alumni of the late Los Angeles Herald Examiner, as they called it toward the end, are gathering March 13 at the L.A. Press Club. The paper closed 19 years ago in November, so why not celebrate the almost-20th anniversary? Organizer Alex Ben Block will moderate a panel expected to include alums such as Daily News editor Ron Kaye, political reporter Linda Breakstone, Times Washington editor Don Frederick and Santa Monica city councilman Bobby Shriver. Jim Bellows, left, the editor who hired many of the HerEx graduates, may attend if his health allows. Corky's was the local dive bar for HerEx staffers. Info

    The top photo is of the 1915 opening of the Julia Morgan-designed Examiner building downtown. [LAO]

    > The Wayback Machine: Death of the Herald Examiner

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    The News Is Good for the Sioux City Journal

    I work for a dying industry.

    At least that’s what an average consumer of news and information might reasonably ascertain by reading the headlines in journalism trade journals, Web sites and even the national news. The problem is that assumption is deeply flawed.

    ... The vast majority of newspapers are seeing incredible growth. Most newspapers serve medium- to small-sized markets. In those markets, newspapers and their Web sites are doing very well. The Sioux City Journal is no different. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

    Tampa Tribune Goes on a Diet

    The Tampa Tribune is no longer publishing a features section on Mondays and Tuesdays. Daily comics have moved to the front of the classified section, while the features section BayLife becomes a tabloid Wednesday through Saturday.

    Their Sunday features section will combine Travel and BayLife in a section called Getaway, TV critic Walt Belcher's column goes four days a week and runs inside the paper's first section (called Nation/World) behind the front page. Its Monday business section will also end, with business news placed inside the Nation/World section. And daily TV listings also go away, available in print only on Sundays in the traditional TV guide booklet. [Click fior MORE]

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    Chinese-Language Paper Ordered to Pay for Labor Violations

    One of the nation's largest Chinese-language newspapers was slapped with a federal court order to pay $5.2 million to past and current employees who were forced to work 12-hour days without breaks or overtime pay.

    The Chinese Daily News, based in Los Angeles and New York, must pay more than $3.5 million in damages and penalties in addition to more than $1.5 million in interest to the workers, according to an order issued late Thursday by U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall in Los Angeles. Lawyers said Friday they learned about the ruling by e-mail. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

    Opportunities for Extra Credit

    Cover any of these assignments for extra credit. Any story offered to the student newspaper will earn double extra credit if it is published.

    • March 5: Paul Scott, president of the Electric Vehicle Assn., will talk and present his film, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" 7 p.m., Performing Arts Center.
    • March 13: The Conejo Recreation and Park District will hold a presentation about the Holocaust at 7 p.m., at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Dean Dan Brown, former Moorpark College history professor, and Rabbi Gershon Weissman from Temple Beth Haverim, will give a multimedia discussion on the historical facts surrounding the Holocaust as well as the dangers posed by revising history. There will be a question and answer discussion period. The presentation is free, but seating is limited and reservations are encouraged. To make reservations, call (805) 381-2744.
    • March 31: Linda Vickers, professor of nutrition, will speak and present the film,"King Corn." 7 p.m., Performing Arts Center.
    • April 15: Sergio Sanudo-Wilhemy of USC will present a panel discussion on the accuracy of Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth." 7 p.m., Performing Arts Center.
    • April 21: Elizabeth D. Gillis-Smith, professor of English, will lecture about Rachel Carson, and present the film, "The American Experience: Rachel Carlson's Silent Spring." 7 p.m., Performing Arts Center.
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    Daily News to Move in September

    LA Observed reports that the shrinking paper will downscale from 117,000 square feet in a converted warehouse to 53,000-square feet of commercial office space on Burbank Boulevard in Woodland Hills. [SFVBJ] Sphere: Related Content

    Sunday, March 2, 2008