Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Tomorrow" Sounds Better Than "It's a Hard Knock Life" To McClatchy Editors, Publishers

Newspaper Bigwigs Drink Their Kool-Aid From Glasses That Are Always Half-Full

The sun will come out tomorrow.....

The daily forecast inside most newspapers nowadays is doom and gloom. Yet, some executives are pulling out the stops to whistle a happy tune.
Among them are editors and publishers at McClatchy newspapers, who are either severely delusional or they know something we don't know.
Based on some recent public pronouncements and industry trends, I'll bank on the former.
What else to make of the comments of John Drescher, executive editor of The News and Observer in Raleigh, where 70 people are losing their jobs by the end of the month, including 16 in the newsroom.
In a memo to staff, he wrote in part: "We will be saying goodbye to some colleagues, then embarking upon more change than we've ever seen before. If we pull together, which I know we will, we can continue to gain readership and serve this community and state with the kind of public service journalism we have done for more than 100 years."
Gain readership? Isn't the loss of readers, not to mention advertisers, a big reason why the N&O is cutting circulation, merging its sports department and state government reporting with The Charlotte Observer, and teaming up with that paper to produce several feature sections?
Sounds like the N&O will have fewer reporters doing more than ever, resulting in wide coverage gaps and making the product even less compelling that it is now. And yet somehow Drescher expects the number of readers to grow.
Elsewhere in McClatchy land, The Miami Herald is slashing its headcount by 17 percent because publisher David Landsberg told employees "we're operating in a time of great change and challenge for our operations.''
But even as he concedes that revenue, such as ads for jobs, cars and homes migrates permanently to the Web, he sees signs of a turnaround, because viewership of the Herald's Web site, is up 35 percent, as is circulation of the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald.
All well and good, except page views don't translate -- yet -- into corresponding increases in ad revenue. And most of those vanished classifieds have found a home on other sites -- namely those not owned by McClatchy.
Landsberg must know that. Similarly, any McClatchy employee would know that the 10 percent company-wide staff reduction likely won't be the only round of downsizing this year. It's all about the debt, as Editor & Publisher sagely notes, and McClatchy, has gobs of it.
That's not changing anytime soon. Which means more staff reductions, bureau closings, and trimming of newsholes loom, if only because newspaper executives have come up with few ideas to stave off red ink other than to reduce staff and chip away at the features that make their newspapers must reading.
As for Drescher and Landsberg, they're fooling no one except, possibly, themselves.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll love 'ya tomorrow...

1 comment:

David Lee Nelson said...

Or is it the Tomorrow form Macbeth?
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps at this petty pace from day to day
Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.