More Newspaper Cuts Can’t Help Newspapers (Or Their Websites)

June 21st, 2011 by Matt Friedman

Another 700 journalists across the country found out today that they’re losing their jobs. It’s the latest in a series of ongoing newsroom job cuts by Gannett, the company that owns more newspapers (and their websites) than any other. This story by the well respected Poynter Institute reveals the internal communication that was used and reminds us that the company’s CEO took a seven-figure bonus and a 100% salary increase earlier this year.

This move may be good for the company’s financial reports in the short term, but it’s simply not good for its business or its industry in the long term. Fewer journalists means less local news content and less value to the people who pay the mounting bills – advertisers, subscribers and website clickers.

By cutting where the customers actually notice, news organizations just deepen their issues. We have said it before and we will say it again – Content Is King. If the generators of local news and information continue to be reduced, consumers will go elsewhere looking for that content, exploring multiple platforms, and advertisers will follow.

While it’s easy to blame current company management, they must share that blame with their predecessors. While the need to innovate was staring them in the face, they, like their counterpart in many industries, continued “business as usual,” taking their salaries and bonuses into retirement, kicking the glaring problems to the next generation of management.

One Gannett journalist not affected by today’s cuts boldly put a rhetorical question on his personal Twitter page tonight, “So just how do layoffs help a newspaper deepen its public service journalism and improve local news?” That pretty much sums up a sad day for journalists and the communities they hope to serve.

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