New York Times May Begin Layoffs

In economics/money, Journalism, media on April 26, 2008 by Editor Z

Another sign of the metamorphosis that traditional media, including the newspapers are undergoing. Now this appeared in a column by Keith Kelly of the New York Times rival and tabloid the New York post, so its accuracy might be somewhat questionable. However, it has been told and retold on a multitude of sites and blogs throughout cyberspace.

New York Post:

The word from inside [the New York Times]is that approximately 50 unionized journalists have accepted the buyout proposal, and only another 20 non-union editorial employees have gotten on board.

That means that the ax could fall on as many as 30 editorial people in the company’s first ever mass firing of journalists in it’s 156 year history.

Executive Editor William Keller had said originally that he was looking to cut 100 people from the Times staff in response to the dismal newspaper advertising environment.

But then a week ago Assistant Manager William Schmidt issued a memo saying it was almost certain that the company would be forced to make involuntary cuts, and he urged more volunteers to come forward.

The plea apparently fell on deaf ears.

With just 70 people stepping forward for buyouts , it’s very likely that 30 newsroom staffers will be forced out in the coming days.

If true this is a major disappointment for the times and a dark omen for the newspaper business overall. Circulation has been dropping, and a new Audit of newspaper circulation that is set to be made public Monday, indicates that the circulation of daily newspapers decreased by as much as 3.5% this past March, and fell 4.5% for Sunday editions of many top newspaper publications. Advertising revenue (which is where nearly all the profits that are made in a newspaper stream from are) have also receded.

Now a great many of those hostile towards the media, including conservative chatter heads, no doubt relish this development. In their minds this is a sign of success that they somehow slayed the dragon, the evil New York Times that seeks to sway a nation of Americans away from the conservative paradise and towards a liberal view point that will cause this nation to deteriorate. Hey, I said they believe that not me.

However, throughout history new forms of media arrived on the scenes and what was then conventional or traditional forms (such as newspapers and the printed word) were supposed to be en route to their demise. Relegated to the corners of obscurity. But they are still hear. When the motion picture and movie theaters came about many no doubt thought that it would affect the printed word. More certain was that when the radio came along and households began acquiring them, it was believed that the motion picture (better known as the movie would be doomed). After all with a radio after the initial purchase, the entertainment that emanates from it is free and nobody had to leave the comfortable confines of their home. However as everyone knows the motion picture adapted and survived. the same was said about both the theatrical movie and the radio when TV came about in the late 1940s and early 1950s but it found a new niche. And the same was said when VCR, home video, cable television, HBO, the Internet, etc. And guess what we still have all those technologies around and they are to varying degrees relevant.

Newspapers however are undeniably going through a period of transition, where it finds a new role to play in the world of media, entertainment and dissemination of information. But they will likely find a way to survive. Anybody who says that newspapers will be irrelevant or dead by a given year or even decade is teasing themselves. Newspapers will no doubt adapt. The world of online newspapers and major newspaper website appear to have potential. Also some improved stewardship in terms of improving standards of ethics and accuracy, better style, less emphasis on celebrity gossip, a unique layout, better more relevant feature stories that can be of value and interest to more readers, and also crucially important is that newspapers find a way to remain of interest in a world increasingly drawn to bumper stickers rather then prose, without falling victim to sensationalism, tabloidization, or sacrificing journalistic integrity.

How can that be done? hey, if I knew that don’t you think that I would be read by several million readers rather then like five readers (and that is on a really good day)?



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