Wow, what a sad thing.
Inevitable, perhaps. But still sad.
The Deseret News dropped the hammer today — 43 percent staff cut, including 57 full-time jobs and another 28 part-timers. You can read their story here (click!).
Another blog by Utah photojournalists here (click) has some continually updated news about it. The part about staffers having all their gear, pagers and other stuff taken away and then being escorted from the building by security is particularly harsh in light of all the warm fuzzy words about their past contributions in the press release.
Yah, I know, having fired folk removed at once is SOP these days — bad for morale to have them hanging around like Banquo’s ghost, and who knows what havoc they’ll wreak? — but it still seems mean.
This isn’t as bad as the 60 percent rumors we were hearing, but it’s bad enough. That’s a lot of people losing their jobs, and it’s not as if there are a lot of other newspapers for them to go to. Since PR jobs are also one of the first places that other companies cut back on when the economy gets hard, there aren’t a lot of places in that industry for them to go to either.
So this is a blow to the local economy — 85 people no longer shopping at local shops, eating at local restaurants, buying local cars, and on and on.
Haven’t heard from any friends there yet. I’m afraid to look, frankly, although I am sure word will get around. I hear Joe Cannon is out as editor — so the story isn’t completely bleak. The man had no business in that job.
The most interesting part of the story in the D-News is the paragraph, way down below, that says the paper’s print readership is up 20 percent in the last year. How can a business that is selling 20 percent more newspapers, or reaching 20 percent more readers (not the same thing) be in trouble?
Ads. Ad revenue sucks. The purchase price of a newspaper barely pays for the paper it is printed on. Ad revenue pays all the rest.
Go to the library and look at a copy of the Standard-Examiner on microfilm from 1978, the year I started here. Now look at one today. That 32 year old paper had five times as many ads from five times as many local businesses. Most of those local businesses –ZCMI, Gibson’s, Wolfe’s Sporting Goods, Blacker Furniture — no longer exist, and every time a local business goes away my publisher pops another anti-acid. Wal-Mart opens another branch, but it doesn’t take out more advertising.
Then there’s all this digital stuff — The D-News is also moving to the Triad Center and merging its staff with KSL — interesting, since KSL’s free on-line classified is probably as much responsible for the financial troubles at the D-News (And the S-E) as anything else.
The D-News, and the Trib, and we, are all going nuts trying to figure out how to make the Internet pay, so far with some success but, obviously, not enough. USA Today is going more on-line and cutting back as well.
Yeah yeah, I know: Times change, live with it. And we will. But it still sucks, and it is extremely painful to see so many have to pay the price for that change.