Monday, March 16, 2009

NPR: FJ publisher says production cuts may be coming

A frequent reader sent me a link to NPR's coverage today of the pending Booth actions. In it, the publisher comes closer (assuming he was quoted correctly) to admitting that production day cuts could be in the offing. The link is here.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Check out http://jackshow.blogs.com/jack/


Visit today's essay on proposed newspaper changes.

Jim of L-Town said...

Don't tell Tom and Mr. Anonymous from a previous thread, they believe the reporter fairy is going to drop news stories from the sky for free when all the newspapers are gone.

Worth the listen and/or read.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Im so depressed, so depressed so depressed. Thats all there is

Jim of L-Town said...

Listen, I'm not a psychiatrist, and I don't play one on TV, but there is life after newspapers. Trust me on that.

Maybe they will change their plans just to spite me, I would be happy about that.

Never give up, never let them get you down.

Anonymous said...

and ...
still ...
no ...
story ...
in ...
the ...
flint ...
journal ...

We Delivered More!

Jerry said...

Anonymous 16:44

You delivered more..and you deserved more.

Anonymous said...

Come on, now (anonymous 16:44). You can't expect them to write about something that's not completely finalized. I'm grateful details have leaked out to give those who work there some idea of what's to come. But it's absolute silliness to think the paper or any large public entity is going to make an announcement before it has dotted its "i's" and crossed its "t's." This decision is huge. It's about Booth's very survival. Besides, we all know if that if the Newhouses don't sign off, it's all back to square one.

And sure, if it ends up being the "nuclear option," they might abandon the product in droves. But, the majority might not (These still are the strongest news gathering operations in their respective cities).

So, ultimately all these people that constantly get torn down here might be the ones (aided by the dedicated staffs who remain) to make this work. And whether I am able to help (meaning I'm on the bubble), I'll be rooting for them instead of plunging the daggers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 18:18 writes like a Booth editor, with flaccid passives, unclear pronouns and a touch of smarmy, misguided self-importance .

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 20:47: OK, you're right. Everyone needs a good copy editor, the lack of which is a big problem on the net (certain Mlive sites, especially).

In regards to the nuclear option, the "they" I was referring to were the readers.

So, in the honest hopes of a more civil discourse, thanks.

But to further elaborate on my point:

I just believe there's too much hating going on in these comment forums. And while I understand the importance of venting and feel a tinge of bitterness myself, I do tire of the meanness, especially when those who remain give it all they have each and every day. People aren't mailing it in. Sure, they miss things and aren't as comphrensive in the reporting in some cases because of smaller staffs, but they're still dancing. And that's something to be admired, not pilloried. And ultimately, when you keep attacking the paper, you're attacking them and an inperfect, but still damn good product that's struggling to endure.

Maybe the paper should close. Maybe it shouldn't survive. Maybe that will only bring a better news gathering operation to these cities, but I don't think that ultimately serves the papers' employees, our communities or our society.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. I'm in Kalamazoo. Used to be a staffer at the Gazette and still in contact with many of the innocent souls still in the newsroom. A big meeting is planned for this week or next. Rumors are swirling that it's regarding possible production changes. I'll keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time for those in Booth management, especially those at the Flint Journal to resign. They have screwed up thousands of lives, destroyed an institution that goes back over 133 years while fattening up their collective (ass)ests and paychecks.

Follow the example of the Japanese- issue a public apology, hang your head in shame and resign. Now.

Anonymous said...

Has the $430K publisher been identified? Wonder who is worth that much? Like AIG, failure gets its rewards.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SIX-Qp6v4k&feature=related


can you post this?

Anonymous said...

The suggestion that it's time for Booth management to resign is worth looking at a little closer. That it hasn't happened, and isn't likely to happen voluntarily, almost certainly is one of the sticking points that's currently gumming things up.

It's publicly known that Booth papers a few months ago flirted with the idea of combining various operations -- such as a universal newsroom copy desk -- in one or two locations in Michigan.

Why hasn't it happened? Here's one theory. Each paper now has its own publisher, editor-in-chief, news editor, general manger, advertising manager, etc., etc.

If you combine some operations? Do you need as many top dogs anymore? Even the Newhouse people can figure out the answer is no. I suspect what's happened of late is that the big wheels can't decide which of their number stays and which of them goes. Thus, an impasse.

If the fix were in, at least a few by now would have announced voluntary retirements or resignations "to pursue other interests." Hasn't happened yet, has it?

I'm inclined to think that that very problem of how to thin their ranks is what forced them back to the drawing board. So long as each paper continues to exist in some fashion, the various top guns can justify their continued existence.

Anonymous said...

For so many of us who toiled for a once proud organization, there is a consensus this blog has both the promise and purpose to elucidate what is happening at Booth, particularly the Flint Journal.

Examples include: Broken promises, including the joke of a job pledge. There is also the disturbing pattern of the throw it against the wall and see if it sticks special advertising supplements decreed by upper management with no input from those who must sell it- alas, such efforts are a set up for failure which winds up on the doorstep of salespeople, giving management more ammunition to dismiss them. And there are the lies and denials of changes to come. Message to management: ignoring it won’t make it go away. That only happens to one’s teeth- and you’re kicking in ours right now.

Jim’s jottings empower those who feel their power has been vanquished by huddling management types whose main objective is to cover their own (ass)ets, oppress free exchanges of ideas, and act as self-appointed killjoys. I am inspired by the groundswell of support and commentary on this blog surmising the decline and fall of the Journal.

We gave, they took. We had ideas, they didn’t listen. We built, they destroyed. We’ll comment, they’ll react. And while spring is a harbinger of hope, we’ll all hold our breath next Monday March 23rd as a forecast of gloom and doom awaits….

Anonymous said...

My source now says the meeting has been changed to this Friday, March 20, in an effort to throw us off the March 23 case.

Anonymous said...

The sooner the better..

Anonymous said...

I'm a longtime Booth employee and can't believe how many commenters on this site are living in fantasy land by blaming their editors and bosses for the current situation.

Almost every newspaper in the country is in the same situation. We live in the state with the most depressed economy. Are we really surprised/shocked that Newhouse is revamping the business model here?

I have colleagues all over the country who have already lost their jobs or have taken pay cuts. At my former non-Newhouse paper, the newsroom now has a third of the employees that it had when I was there. Boothies have had pretty damn good here in Michigan. It's hard to believe that we still have fully paid health care, a 53rd week of pay,both a pension plan AND a 401K matching plan. It's shocking that the job guarantee still exists in this industry, in this economic climate. If some of that goes away, sure I'll be upset. But to think we in Booth should somehow be exempt from industrywide turmoil is just insane and delusion.

I love newspapers. I love being a journalist. But the world has changed and crying about the unfairness of it all isn't going to change a thing. All this bluster in suggesting that if WE were in charge, everything would be different is just bunk. Do we really believe that every editor, every publisher in America is a blithering idiot? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

As far as special advertising features go a lot of us have expressed our concerns that these features do not meet the needs of advertisers. We are told by management that it is our job to sell what we are told to sell. End of discussion. The blame then goes to the salespeople instead of where it rightly belongs. If the paper can't support itself it is a direct result of poor management.

Anonymous said...

Umm, we're already down to a third of the newsroom from 5 years ago. We've already seen benefits cut and shifted on to employees that use it (if you have a family, you're paying out of pocket). We've had our wages frozen for 5 years, falling behind inflation by about 20% in that time. Now they're cutting more. Yes, the climate is bad, but management has made stupid decision on top of stupid decision wasting millions. Seems like you're the one in fantasy land.

inky said...

To Anonymous 00:10 -- I think the commentators are well aware of the terrible state of the newspaper industry. Like you, I think it's commendable that the Newhouse family extended benefits like the 53rd week, defined benefit pension, etc. That was the great thing about the papers being family run. Another benefit of not having to answer to Wall Street is that you can be creative and nimble ... unlike the Hearsts, McClatchys, Scripps-Howards and Gannetts ... and sadly, that just never happened at the Michigan Booth papers.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to inform you of the damage your blog has caused.

Because of you, we now work in a prison block. Everyone is in trouble, getting "spoken to", the bosses suspicions running rampant.

We are being watched. Constantly. What little privacy we may have had is gone. Anyone and everyone could be the freefromeditors leak.

People are afraid to consult with their co-workers. Even for help. All communication except from the boss to us is given the eye.

What do these people expect? How can you not want to talk about your common fate. Instead of sharing the fears, commiserating (sp?), there's just the look of disapproval.

Computers are actively being searched for evidence of infractions and if someone spoke to you. I'd like to know why it matters who talked to you anyway. I thought the newspaper was supposed to uphold the ideal of the first amendment. I think they leave access to your website open so they can catch people reading it.

I know it sounds like I am exaggerating, but for you Journal readers, just because it hasn't happened to you doesn't mean it's not happening. I think they look for people who may question authority first, people who have spoken out against the way they do things. The disloyal. Usually the smart people. No offense.

And I think they like those of us who can't get jobs somewhere else real easy. I work hard and I have a good track record. But still it's hard to start all over when you've come to rely on a steady job with good benefits. I know someone will hire me, but please not Walmart? You can't support a family on that. I don't think I should have to feel like I don't "deserve" benefits because I didn't finish college.

Now everyone is looking for another job. We'll probably close forever tomorrow or whenever thanks to you and these comments. Anyone who might stay will be treated like a hostile witness. Or a chain gang. I'm telling you it's bad. They don't even say good job or buy us a goddamn pot of coffee. No offense.

Morale is at an all time low. Even the moronic happy people are sad. I hope you are happy.

At this point, all I'm hoping for is some meager severance and some unemployment. I'll probably never find a job and declare bankruptcy and die poor and alone, but my fate may still be better than the chain gang I will leave behind.

And I won't be back to your blog. A bitter taste in my mouth.

Jim of L-Town said...

Well, I don't know why I'm responding to the last comment, because they said they were gone forever, but I guess I'll give you the standard newspaper answer:

Don't shoot the messenger.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you 19 March, 2009 20:17. But this isn't Jim's fault. If his info proves to be correct, Journal management would have hit us with this without any warning. At least you know the type of people you work for. They should quit worrying about what is being typed here, and worry more about selling ads and subscriptions. Ya know trying to make money rather than "save" it..

Good luck in the future. Good luck to all of us left here.

Anonymous said...

Our editor and publisher have both said newsprint costs have dramatically risen in recent years leading to needed cutbacks, but this from March 20 NY Times says otherwise ...

First the newspaper industry began suffering. Now it is newsprint.
AbitibiBowater, the giant purveyor of newsprint, was struggling Thursday to restructure its debt and avert bankruptcy.
The company faces a Friday deadline to reach an agreement with its bondholders. If it fails to do so, it may be forced to file for bankruptcy protection, according to people briefed on the matter.
As newspaper companies grapple with a sharp decline in advertising, AbitibiBowater -- which provides what is often the biggest expense for publishers, has come under pressure. The price of newsprint has plummeted in recent years, forcing paper companies to shutter mills and take losses.

Anonymous said...

AA News editor retires graciously in meeting w/editorial dept., thanks employees.

Anonymous said...

The final solution that will save print journalism can be found by looking at iPods and learning some lessons in portability, accessibility and costs.

The final solution will be the development of a digital reading device. (Not quite the Kindle, but close). Imagine two flat screens, hinged together, that folds like a magazine. Turn it sideways, and it's shaped more like a broadsheet paper.

People will own their own easily transportable devices and will access newspapers and magazines either by hooking to their home computers -- pre-programmed software would link and download fast -- or by tapping into wi-fi elsewhere.

Folks would own their own devices, but would have to set up subscription accounts with each news source and pay standard subscription fees online in order to have access. iTunes has proven that people are willing to pay 99 cents a song for the ease and legally approved means of accessing music that they can carry around in their pockets. It's reasonable to assume people will pay approximately what they're currently paying for newspaper or magazine subscriptions.

Sure, you can read online websites at home at your desktop computers for free. You also can listen to music on the radio for free. And yet people buy and use MP3 players for the ease of having the product they want in a convenient form.

Unlike a desktop computer, you can read this device at the dining room table, on a bus, on the beach, propped up in bed, etc., etc. The added value, of course, is you get your Time or Newsweek the moment it hits the newsstands. And you can get "home delivery" of any newspaper in the country anywhere.

Advertising should transfer if what you see on screen looks identical to the paper product. (Visualize magazine pages on the screen). Because this is a reading device, not a website with hyperlinks. For comparison, no one expects that they can use their iPod to alter or manipulate the music.

You might be thinking at this point that people can use laptops and wi-fi to access news web sites, and that's true. But not everyone wants to go that route. Who, after all, uses their laptops to listen to music? Consider that plenty of people are happy with iPods that simply are iPods and aren't trouble by the fact that they aren't Blackberrys. This reading device would have very few bells and whistles and just a couple of buttons. Little to update, almost nothing to maintain, etc. Make it easy to use, and people will buy it .... think iPod.

The irony is that if Steve Jobs had invented the iReader before the iPod, the news industry would be in different shape today.

Anonymous said...

In response to the commenter at 9:35 3/19, the people at our paper continue to get raises, even this year, albeit meager ones. Also, I use the family health-insurance plan and don't contribute a cent. Incidentally, the accumulated inflation rate over the past five years is 14 percent, so I'm not sure where you're getting the 20 percent figure.

Anonymous said...

March 20, 12:05 - I work at The Flint Journal. No one I know of got a raise. I don't know of anyone who has received a raise in several years. If you did, then you must be a manager or a suck up.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that management is reacting so harshly to this 'leak.' Don't they know the people they have hired are supposed to dig this stuff up? Maybe that is where the chasm occurred, editors and publishers have forgotten what good reporting really is.

This 'leak' is a damn good reporter, bred for getting to the bottom of a story. I am sorry for the morale problem but this isn't Jim's fault, nor that of the inside informant. You just happen to be the story this time.

Jim's right about life after newspapers. And it's your choice what you do about it.

Anonymous said...

Government's inflation figures don't factor in huge increase in commodity prices. Plus you have to compound the figures year-over-year. I guess you took the the lowest level of insurance you could get and your family stays healthy all the time.