Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tribune Considers Design, Copy Editing Functions to Be ‘Manufacturing’


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Yesterday’s statement by the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild makes an interesting point. You’ll find it in the second sentence of this quote by Cet Parks, the guild’s executive director:

Tribune, through careless management practices, has saddled itself under $13 billion in debt and now Baltimore is paying a price. Tribune is siphoning good jobs from Baltimore and sending work that talented editors, reporters, photographers, copy editors and designers have done here to its home base in Chicago. That is not right.

Oh, it’s worse than that, Cet. A staffer at another Tribune paper — who wishes to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons — tells us copy desks all over six Tribune-company papers are being gutted:

Reporters and line editors are being told that their copy has to be clean enough to publish because it may not get another read. Word is the copy desk is only going to read copy for the section fronts, and they’ll get to the rest of the paper if time permits.

As if newspapers didn’t have enough problems retaining readers as it is. One big advantage newspapers — and newspaper web sites! — have over a common blogger is their fact-checking, proofreading and accuracy safeguards.

And now we’re cutting back on those. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Swine Flu Strikes the Downsized Newsroom

LA Observed offers up this fable of newsroom reality:

Editor-in-Chief: (Staring at CNN coverage of Swine Flu outbreak) We need something good and local on this swine flu thing. Get someone at the university to explain how this god damned thing jumped from pigs to people, how are they tracking it, what the hell does it all mean? Get that guy who did that piece on the flu vaccine shortage a couple years ago, remember that sidebar he did on the 1918 flu? That was great.

City Editor: Koprowski?

Editor-in-Chief: Yeah, Koprowski!

City Editor: Corporate laid him off. Health care reporter. Non vital.

Editor-in-Chief: What about that bi-ingual girl we had covering immigration? She can go find out what the Mexicans are saying.

City Editor: She's gone, too. Diversity stories don't sell car ads.

Editor-in-Chief: Don't we have anybody who covers the county health department?

City Editor: Sure, that's Barnes.

Editor-in-Chief: Well, have Barnes do something.

City Editor: She's in Washington.

Editor-in-Chief: Washington?

City Editor: Yeah. She covers government. Federal, City, County, Municipal. She covers it all. She's great.

Editor-in-Chief: What the hell is she doing in Washington? Can't she cover the delegation by phone?

City Editor: She's not covering the delegation.

Editor-in-Chief: What?

City Editor: We had a local bowling team of teabag guys head to the capital to protest taxes. We sent her along.

Editor-in-Chief: Good call. That'll be a good piece. Well, let's get a freelancer on it.

City Editor: You really slashed my freelance budget.

Editor-in-Chief: Have Flannagan do it, he'll write it for cheap. I pay him $25 a story and he works like a... I'll call him..

(Phone rings)

Flannagan: Hello.

Editor-in-Chief: Timmy! It's Bowes down at the Clarion, we need you to do a story for us.

Flannagan: (Moans)

Editor-in-Chief: What's up? You don't sound good.

Flannagan: I think I got the Swine Flu

Editor-in-Chief: Sheesh, you should go see a doctor.

Flannagan: Freelance. No insurance.

Editor-in-Chief: Don't they have that $25 clinic down on Maple?

Flannagan: Hey, when are you guys gonna pay me for that invoice from January?

Editor-in-Chief: Gotta Go, Flannagan. Call me when you feel better.

City Editor: So?

Editor-in-Chief: No go. Hey what about Soletti?

City Editor: In Sports?

Editor-in-Chief: Sure, don't Mexicans play high school sports?

City Editor: I guess. I'll check. (walks over to Soletti's desk). Hey, man, what are you working on?

Soletti: I've got to design these two features pages, then at 3:00 I have a baseball game, from there I have to shoot over to a tennis match, and then there's the spring football practice at 5:00. After that I need to come back here, write those up, get them on the page, and by then baseball scores and the playoff finals should start coming in. What's up?

City Editor: Bowes is wondering if you can get us something on swine flu for newsside?

Soletti: Are you kidding me?

City Editor: Nothing big. Just make a phone call or two and put it in the system. I'll tack it to a wire story and we'll be good.

Soletti: Dude, I'm slammed.

City Editor: Two calls. You can call that pitcher from the baseball team! What's his name?
Cabrera, right? He's Mexican. Maybe he can tell you something. Maybe someone in his family has it.

Soletti: He's Dominican.

City Editor: Oh. OK. Get me something by 3:00. OK. Big story. Total coverage. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Miami Herald Photo Shoot

On April 21, 2009 members of the Miami Herald Photography / Videography staff gathered at One Herald Plaza to do an official staff photo. Due to photogs being on assignment or absent or recently laid-off, images of the missing members were held up by those in attendance. Timelapse video by Walt Michot. Still photography by Al Diaz. Produced by Candace Barbot. Sphere: Related Content

FUTURE OF MEDIA: LA Times Book Fest Version



In the middle of the panel called MEDIA: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE at Sunday’s LA Times Festival of Books, Marc Cooper made news—or at least mini-news—when he remarked in passing that the Sacramento Bee feels it does not have the staff to adequately cover the upcoming race for governor—at least the So Cal part of the race—so they are looking to partner with the Annenberg School of Journalism in the hope that they can use student reporters can fill in the gap.

Now keep in mind that the Bee has the largest number of reporters covering the state capitol of any California media outlet. So if they’re in trouble covering an issue of state government….even the So Cal part…. this is a sign that spoke loudly to the subject of the panel.

As yet, Marc said, no deals have been struck.

(NOTE TO SAC’TO BEE: as you are a (theoretically) a profit making enterprise, you have to pay any students whom you use. You know that, right?) [Click for MORE]

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Investors Bet on Small-Market Papers

While big newspapers across the country fight for survival, the slice of the industry that serves small markets is drawing new investment from industry veterans.

Longtime newspaper executive Michael Schroeder (right) in January bought two Connecticut dailies on the verge of closure. Pennsylvania publisher Richard Connor says he is close to acquiring a group of Maine papers, including the state's largest daily.

Last month, according to a person familiar with the matter, Tennessee Valley Printing Co., a family-owned publisher of smaller papers, agreed to buy a paper in Florence, Ala., for about $12 million, taking it off the hands of New York Times Co., which needs to raise cash.

The buyers' confidence reflects the divide between big-city papers and their relatively healthier brethren in smaller cities and towns. Advertising revenue fell just 3.6% last year for dailies with circulations under 100,000, compared to a nearly 17% decline for the industry overall, according to trade groups. [Click for MORE]

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