Newspaper, Magazine Woes

Please read
Times Shuts Down Sports Magazine
Web Sites that Dig for News Rise as Watchdogs
Newspapers Jettisoning Top Talent to Cut Costs.”

Post your reactions by Wednesday at 6 p.m.

After 6 p.m. and before class Thursday morning, please read your classmates’ posts and respond.

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12 responses to “Newspaper, Magazine Woes

  1. It’s not news to us that journalism is shifting to the Web. We’ve read and heard all about how magazines are downsizing/folding and how crucial it is to be Web-savvy. But after reading these articles, I questioned the real reason behind the changes in journalism. (I know this wasn’t really the point of the articles, but it’s on my mind so I’ll blog about it anyway.)

    More people are accessing online articles. But does that mean they no longer purchase/subscribe to the magazines they used to? To me, it seems Web sites don’t replace magazines. Rather, they provide extra magazine articles (which contain info people don’t know they want to read until they find it) and act as a reference for information people seek out. I haven’t looked up the statistics or anything… I just see magazines on coffee tables everywhere.

    The New York Times’ sports magazine, Play, was only hanging on because one advertiser purchased all the ad space in a special issue. I wonder if companies don’t want to purchase ads in magazines because too few people read the publications or if it’s because they’d rather spend their ad dollars online. Could this be the reason magazines are suffering?

  2. I’m encouraged by the idea of non-profit news groups acting as watchdogs in some of these cities around the United States. It is encouraging because political scientists among other groups consider the media to be an integral part of the political process often referring to the media as the fourth branch of government. To see some of these groups or papers do the things they do such as uncover scandals and promote the truth and seek the truth, I think it’s just great for the news media.

    The downside to these groups is that they seem to be forming after major layoffs at big papers or magazines. Since online sources seem to be the preferred way to get news by people it only makes sense that in this kind of financial and economic crisis that papers and magazines have to cut back. It is unfortunate though that people are being laid off and that it’s easier to keep less qualified people over the more veteran workers. The silver lining here to me is that at least the veteran workers can leave and join these non-profit watchdog groups and write some of the same articles that they would have at the bigger publication.

  3. After reading these articles I was a little surprised. I had always thought and been taught that the first ones to get the ax once layoffs started happening was the freshest and greenest employees. So I was a little shocked to learn that now it’s the higher ups that are getting fired; just because they are more expensive. I was very irritated to learn this. Journalism should never be about cost, even though I know thats unrealistic. But still, journalism should be about substance. Newspapers and magazines should have the very best reporters on staff who are able to tell things the way they are. These are the people with the experience, thye deserve to be informing us. Instead, the journalism field has become just like any other and is only focused on the green paper coming in; not on the content in the paper they send out.

    The web sites article didn’t really surprise me. With the amount of blogging going on already, it was bound to happen. However, I don’t think they will ever become much more than the little organizations they already are. Like it said in the article, they don’t have the ability to have a big staff. This would leave tons of journalists unemployed, which means alot of stories wouldn’t get published. We need as many true journalists out there as we can possibly get so that we know we are getting all the stories. I’m not saying throw any person on the payroll who can put together a sentence. But people who are genuinely committed to telling the truth and informing the people. If these websites with staffs of 10-15 people take over, we won’t be getting the full story. Thats only 10-15 people reporting for any given area. It’s not enough.

  4. I’m not sure if it was just my computer, but my link to “Newspapers Jettisoning Top Talent to Cut Costs,” was the same as “Web Sites…etc.” Either way, I think I’ve gotten the point across of the articles.

    The decline in print publications and rise of online versions just goes to show the changes in technology and the effect it has on us as journalists and reporting. I’m not at all surprised that this is happening, especially with the combination of a falling economy and increases in technology.

    Personally, I am still old-fashioned and would much prefer a paper version than the online version. There is just something nostalgic about physically holding the information in your own hands. But I see that the cost involved with print publications is obviously much greater than that of online versions.

    One other thing- totally random and irrelevant to journalism- but it reminded me of how Drake no longer sends out a paper tuition bill and instead just e-mails an online version. Maybe I am just too particular, but I was a little upset at this news. It is much easier to read a bill when it is on a piece of paper in front of you! This applies to magazines, newspapers, books, etc. as well!

  5. Don’t count on it.

    Just because you do your job well doesn’t entitle you job security. Yes, it’s a sad when a long time. possibly beloved writer is let go, but none of the articles considered that there may be a reason for the firing.

    We talked about this issue at the beginning of the course. A lot of “old school” journalists are writers. Redundant? No. That’s all they are. They don’t work with video, blogs, or any form of digital media. This lack of flexibility and their high salary make them prime targets for the axe.

    These articles don’t make me overly anxious about my future in the news industry. I don’t expect a high level of job security, though. If I’m an awful employee, I’m fired. If I do my job well, there is always a chance I could rub someone the wrong way; my mouth tends to do that.

    This could be my own ignorance, but a comment in “Watchdogs” raised a red flag.

    “Publishing online means operating at half the cost of a comparable printed paper, but online advertising is not robust enough to sustain a newsroom.”

    Er…I thought advertising in print wasn’t faring well, hence the layoffs and cutbacks. How are online ads any different?

    All in all, this isn’t the time to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. Give another five years. 😛

  6. My hometown paper the Minneapolis Star Tribune also just killed their award-winning luxury magazine… http://www.minnpost.com/braublog/2008/11/18/4697/strib_purging_begins_marq_mag_dies

    On one hand, I think, “Times are rough. Who cares if luxury goods advertising loses a home?” But the MinnPost article about the StarTrib mag points out that mags like these two can keep journalists employed and keep the publisher publishing less lucrative things like the newspaper.

    On the other hand, the strategy to get rid of the most experienced reporters and editors just blows my mind. Maybe it will make all us young journalists awesome in a hurry because of the necessity to learn in a trial by fire situation, but maybe we’re losing out on the chance to work with people who could share so much expertise. Matt, I agree with your point that our flexibility can make us seem like a “better deal” for payroll.

    I’m a MinnPost member and I’ve been really impressed with their political and arts coverage over the past year. It’s the kind of organization I can imagine myself working for. The public radio funding model is working for public radio, and we all know public radio’s my favorite beacon of hope in our stormy journalism sea. So why shouldn’t other sources of news emulate that? (I think I have an affinity for nonprofits, because The Cedar Cultural Center, my favorite venue in the Cities that I interned for this summer, is another nonprofit.)

    I guess my progressive spirit moves me to believe that the quality (in journalism and other things) will rise to the top, wherever it is coming from. A small, smart readership will share content and spread the word about a site, even if a small online outlet like Voice doesn’t become “the main source” of news for a city.

  7. I have to admit that at first glance these articles are a little unnerving. Graduation for me us just around the corner, and entering the job market is scary enough without all the closures and layoffs happening in the industry I want to enter. But, at the same time, who ever said that change was a bad thing? I think the fact that the industry can so easily grow and move in new directions is an encouraging one, not a scary one. I like jobs that keep me on my toes. Our industry has been constantly changing since its beginning — people are always finding better and more efficient ways to get their messages across, and this is no different.

    I’m convinced that publishing isn’t going anywhere. There’s always going to be a need for communication and for people who can communicate. The work still needs to get done, so there will always be jobs — maybe just not the exact jobs we originally imagined. I think it will be exciting to see what direction the industry goes from here.

    Another point that I heard today is that workers our age don’t need to be terribly concerned about being laid off right out of college. Let’s face it, we won’t be getting paid enough to be a financial burden. So really, that entry-level salary might end up being a pretty good deal after all.

  8. Well, if it’s the older and wiser journalists that seem to be getting the axe then I am more than satisfied with maintaining my current state of sophomoric youth. I’m fine with working my tail off every day, personally producing the copy, photos and web videos for my stories. And shoot, there is no reason, once so ever, for the newspaper or wire service I’m working for pay me enough to live off of and make the interest payments on my student loans I acquired while I was getting my fancy, private school degree. I want to pass newspaper legends on their way out the door as I come in to set up my pencil cup in their newly vacated cubical.

    Wait, nevermind. I don’t want that. And I especially don’t want any part of the problem that arises when you have a newspaper legend clear off his desk so some snot nosed punk from Iowa can take his place simply because it makes sense in a spread sheet.

    As Carr points out in his column, the biggest problem with replacing quality reporters with green, cheap kids is that the industry itself suffers. With ads sales continuing to dry up, dollar by dollar, newspapers need to remain a viable medium and your paper needs to be the best out there, and thats impossible unless you keep the best of the best on staff while the rest of the industry is trying to keep par.

    Of course, this creates an interesting dilemma for me. I am one of those snot nosed punks from Iowa. I do want to get into those recently emptied spots, and easier the access right after graduation the better. But what about when I finally become older, wiser and ::gasp:: less adaptable? I guess there is one question everyone in the industry needs to ask: is this short term gain at all worth it in the long term?

  9. I tend to agree with Matt that some of the reason the “old school journalists” get the ax is because their skills are outdated.

    There are times when business is up and times when business is down. That’s just the way things go. It’s sad and someday I may be in that place—wishing my skills were as current as the newbies, wishing I was not on the chopping block—and then I’ll be thinking it’s a shitty system. But a system it is. And if this system didn’t exist we might have a more difficult time getting jobs next year or the year after that when we’re all running from publishing house to publishing house, shiny, new diploma in hand. Somebody generally has to go for someone new to come on board. Papers and magazines don’t continually grow to accommodate us.

    Despite these feelings I have about the job market, I feel for the countless families that will be affected by lay-offs that are and will continue to happen here in our own backyards. Yes, even the backyards that were recently host to presidential rock stars don’t always have the greenest grass. But, most likely, it took grit, talent and a lot of hard work to get to the places those folks have been. Many of them may not want to do it all over again, but they leave a legacy for us newbies to live up to. The best we can do for them is to do our best to fill their shoes and make them proud to say, “I once worked for the best paper in the Midwest—The Des Moines Register.” Or magazine, etc.

    Whether we do it on newsprint, on glossy stock or online, let’s be sure to do it with integrity and to the best of our ability. And never forget to keep your skills updated!

    I feel like I should be waving my pom-poms in the air and bouncing like a schoolgirl.

  10. The only way I can see to fight this growing issue is to be constantly learning. We’re the most adaptable workforce. We grew up adapting to all kinds of new technology, and we’ve learned how to adjust to and embrace new things. This, I think, is a big part of the reason companies want people from our generation and not older generations. That, and we work for a lot less.

    At the same time, these articles make a good point–cutting staff members with more experience isn’t a good idea. It seems a few are learning this the hard way. I certainly don’t know what the solution is… why can’t someone just fix it!?

  11. Seeing as I am just getting out of school “Newspapers Jettisoning top Talent to Cut Costs,” really made me sad. Although, it should make me feel like I can get a job because my labor is cheap. But it does the opposite; instead it makes me feel like I am going to take the job or someone that I read and respect. I also completely agree with the article for the fact that if newspapers keep cutting there best and most well known reporters then readership will drop and the newspaper will go out of print. I feel like soon, with all of these cuts some of my favorite papers will no longer be there for me to read.

    The article “Times Shuts Down Sports Magazine,” also added to the gloom that I felt after I read “Newspapers Jettisoning top Talent to Cut Costs.” Although, Play is not a major magazine it still made me feel like my future in journalism or the future of journalism in general is not looking good.

    The web-based newspaper article just scared me. I have been brought up in what has become known as the technology age, but honestly I am not very good at things online. I prefer things in print. I realize that online publishing is cheaper, but I feel like by not being in print I am missing out on something huge. Maybe I just don’t like change but I like my magazines and newspapers in print.

  12. While on one hand I feel a sense of relief that the older journalists are the ones are getting cut these days, I also feel like this is just a band-aid for (possibly) hard economic times. Yes, they get paid more and it’s more cost efficient to use younger journalists who are willing to get paid less, but aren’t these the people who we young journalists learn from? I work at the Register and this has been and major topic of conversation these days. I don’t necessarily think that technology is an issue because most of these reporters are just as tech-savvy as we are (due to various teaching methods that are employed at the Register). It’s strictly a money issue. But, in the long run I feel that this is only going to hurt the journalism world because the younger group won’t have someone there to guide them. It’s sad to see some very talented reporters go, knowing that they could teach me a lot more than i could ever learn in school regardless of age or salary.

    The web article didn’t phase me. I think I’m becoming numb to the idea that print media is dying and have come to accept the fact that web-based journalism is the future. Does it make me sad? Yes, mostly because I still cling to the print magazine like it was my best friend. I love holding printed media in my hand and i don’t feel that kind of connection with web-media. However, I do see that there are so many opportunities with web media that we have never had before. Technological change has occurred before and people have to adjust. It’s surprising to me that so many of us who have grown up with the Web, are so surprised by this shift.

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