Friday, June 06, 2008

Tribune about to turn the screws

This from Thursday's Chicago Tribune on the company's chief operting officer outlining plans to tighten the screws across the chain:

Tribune Co. officials think the media concern "could take about 500 pages out of our newspapers every week," company-wide, by reducing the proportion of editorial content to advertising to a 50-50 level, Chief Operating Officer Randy Michaels told the Chicago company's creditors Thursday.

In discussing the company's efforts to alter its cost structure in the face of rapidly eroding industry conditions, Michaels said in a conference call that Tribune is "actively pursuing a plan to right-size" the newspaper operation.

The recently installed COO also disclosed that Tribune officials have been examining the productivity of individual reporters at the company's newspapers, and have observed a significant discrepancy between the output of individual reporters.

In addition, he said, the productivity of the reporting staffs at Tribune's smaller dailies is much higher -- in terms of sheer output -- than at larger papers such as the company's big Los Angeles Times paper.

The implication of that difference in output, as measured by story production is that "We can eliminate a fair amount of people, while eliminating not much copy," he observed. Michaels didn't offer any details.
There is so much that could be said about how turning journalism into essentially just an assembly line of shoving widgets out the door pretty much guarantees those newsrooms eventually will die. (And, yes, I think in larger newsrooms there is bloat and some tightening is needed.)

But this is so stark and so stupidly equates all journalism as the same that I think it should just stand there in bas-relief, projected above the chatter that has become so much background noise about the death of newspapers.

If they eventually write the epitaph, I want this to be out there, starkly, on its own signifying what went so horribly wrong. New models and new thinking are needed. This is neither.

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At 6/6/08, 5:27 PM, Blogger Mair said...

It definitely stands out for me.

There's no bloat left.


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