Tuesday, December 01, 2009

47,000 Newspaper Jobs Lost in Last Two Years

Former Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger estimates newspaper job losses at 47,000 in the last two years. This includes buyouts as well as layoffs.

Steiger, currently editor-in-chief of ProPublica, says the areas hardest hit are investigative and foreign reporting because they are "among the most expensive types of coverage."

The financial problem, according to Steiger, flows from newspapers being "ignored" by most Americans--especially those under age 40. Even those who like the newspaper product ("college graduates over the age of 40") don't think it necessary.

Newspapers are not the only media source suffering.
"Moreover, while the details are different, much is similar at network television news and at the serious magazines."
Steiger thinks good journalism is the key and needs to adjust to the "Internet revolution". The mode (e.g., newspaper) is not important.
"So the answer is not to reverse the [Internet] revolution. You couldn’t if you tried.

"Nor is it to save newspapers. As major studies by the Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities and Columbia University have wisely concluded, the goal should be to extend the benefits of the revolution more broadly and to assure the continuation of journalism."
What Steiger doesn't address is the success of investigative and foreign reporting avenues such as cable television news, radio and books. Why have these managed to hold their own or grow despite the Internet revolution?

More and more people have come to believe that traditional press outlets are biased and care little about accuracy. Those outlets are rightly deemed worthless and ignored.

Investigative reporting and foreign reporting are valuable. There is a willingness to pay for them as can be seen by cable television news audience increases and book sales increases.

Though the need to adapt to new forms does bring problems, it's not the main problem. Lack of confidence in the content is the real problem for newspapers, network television news and "serious" magazines.

H/T Editor & Publisher

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