More Print Cuts

At this rate, the Cleveland Plain Dealer may have a smaller editorial staff one day than your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

OK, well, not quite, but print media watchers have another piece of cringe-worthy employment news: the Advance Publications-owned Plain Dealer has announced another round of job cuts – this one aimed at cutting 38 “unionized newsroom employees” from the PD staff by the end of this year.

As with previously announced cuts, the PD is first offering a buyout to those employees – which they’ll have until November 20th to accept. From the article by the PD’s Sarah Hollander:

If 38 don’t volunteer, the paper will then move to layoffs, Editor Susan Goldberg said.

The severance package would include two weeks of pay for every year worked; health insurance is not part of the package.

The 38 planned cuts, according to the PD, cover “about 16 percent of the newsroom’s Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild members, including reporters, photographers, support staff and some editors.”

Content? Who needs local news content printed on paper? It’s a quaint concept in 2008. Actual reporters covering actual news? We’ll just rely on bloggers and message boards to tell us what’s going on. Photographers taking real pictures? Everyone has a camera phone now, who needs them?

In case you haven’t figured out yet, that entire paragraph was dripping with enough sarcasm to fill a motor home.

We’re very much in favor of large, vibrant news organizations covering news and information in a detailed format, be it in print, on the Internet, on a TV station or at a radio station.

Despite being “part” of the New Media Universe as a blogger, we’re old-fashioned that way. We believe a strong print and broadcast news media is vital for a free society.

But as the article notes, just about anything resembling a traditional media operation is suffering financially.

The horribly slumping economy has cut advertising revenue, and the Internet has come in as a source of new competition. (Not us – we’re not making any money off this thing.)

We do note that PD publisher and president Terry Egger is quoted as saying that the paper is turning “a small profit (…) but much less than expected.” He cites “hard times” ahead for the newspaper industry as a whole.

One big problem faced by newspapers, in specific: the rapidly declining number of classified ads. Despite having forged partnerships with job sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder, or with car ad sites like Cars.com, newspapers are still hurting in the classifieds.

Blame Craigslist for that. The extensive, mostly free classifieds site has become the place to buy and sell, place personal ads, find jobs and more, for a generation of younger people…who are no more likely to buy a newspaper than they are to slay a dragon…

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