Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beaten like rented mules.....

Newsroom staff may soon feel like they are being beaten like rented mules. I wish I could claim the metaphor, but a friend repeated the "beaten mules" thing to me yesterday.

Word has come that the goshawful "Making a Difference" feature will now anchor the new "People" section in the Saturday Flint Journal.

Staff members were told that the tired, worn-out feature will now be elevated to cover status for the weekly insert. Staff members were told that the feature must now be 20-inches long, up from the already difficult 12-inch required size and must include three pieces of art. Trust me getting one piece of art out of those things was often a major challenge.

I'm told that the feature also comes with an extended deadline.

Uggggh! What a joke, this is a feature that never should have been instituted and now is being promoted to rock star status in the paper. Is there any wonder this paper is financially bleeding.

The Journal also featured a story on a coming state police academy and it included a quote from "a man on the street." Just guessing, but they probably forced some reporter to head to the nearby mall or bus station to find some anonymous schmoe to make a useless comment on the story.

It's painfully obvious that the newspaper leadership is plowing ahead at high speed on a road that leads, at least to nowhere, and at most to disaster.

And for all the editorial management bluster about how the paper would do "everything" it had been doing even with less staff, it is painfully obvious to everyone what a joke that was.

People in Lapeer County, and no doubt Shiawassee County, have completely noticed the dearth of local news in the paper and some have told me they are likely to cancel soon. Other coverage, especially local "real" features and business news have diminished as well.

Don't blame the reporters either, they have impossibly large beats and expectations to cover. Even with their story quotas - one story a day plus a Sunday story every other week - it would not be possible to be everywhere they need to be.

Beaten like a rented mule may soon fit.

1 comment:

oakland said...

So ... the city is teetering on bankruptcy, jobs are going nowhere but down and the Flint Journal's response is to waste energy on even longer useless stories.

Perhaps the Flint Journal could "make a difference" by providing some real leadership in solving Flint's problems. Not rah-rah cheerleader crap (note to Booth lifer editor: going to the symphony and running a few road races does NOT make you a leader) but a strategy that combines aggressive reporting backed with editorial page firepower.

Oh ... wait ... they're getting rid of the editorial page editor, too.

Never mind.