Saturday, January 14, 2012

Remember the Alamo!

Our annual winter escape is underway. We are leaving behind Michigan for the friendly confines of Texas. WiFi and sources willing I'll continue to post here during our stay down south.

Actually our departure was delayed by 24 hours due to a little snowstorm that blew through.

If you are interested you can follow our adventures at Grandma's Recess.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Newsroom changes announced at the Kazoo Gazette

The Kalamazoo Gazette has announced its new leadership team.

Home newspaper delivery: An endangered species

An interesting article about the demise of the home delivered newspaper. Note it specifically refers to the 30 percent drop in home delivered subscriptions in Ann Arbor since the big change. The article is from Editor and Publisher who apparently aggregated it from Newsosaur.

Note to Booth:  If you want to compete online you better do something about your goshawful site and soon.

And then there is this not-so-good news about the business in 2012 as well.

Hat tip to anonymous FFE reader for the link.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The new model: Don't worry about facts, grammar or spelling

In case you’ve been wondering about the hiring process currently underway for the new MLive Media Group one of those interviewed was nice enough to send me an outline of what is being asked of reporters and editors in the ‘new’ company.

This particular job applicant is from the west side of the State and was interviewing for a full time reporting position in the new company.
For obvious reasons I’m not going to reveal here whether or not the person got the job.

The new reporting positions will require a lot of Internet posting with lots of freedom and very little editorial oversight. While that might seem to be an ideal situation for a reporter, no good reporter wants no backstop or a good set of eyes looking at their work before publication, or in this case posting.
In other words, reporters are going to pretty much be Lone Rangers. This applicant was told that driving web traffic is paramount and editing, well, not so much.

The interviewer, an editor, made it clear that mistakes in stories were to be expected in the new model, including grammar, facts and misspellings. That’s an incredible change from old school journalism and to me a total surrender to mediocrity.
In one of the few direct quotes sent to me by the source this is what the interviewer/editor  said:

"Reporters will self-edit."
Yes, an editor actually said that to a prospective reporter, which will reduce the reporters to nothing more than bloggers.

Reporters in the new MLive Media Group will receive a backpack, a smartphone, a laptop and will move out from the new “hubs” (I guess that is the new word for newsroom) and will interact with the community and posting online what they see hear and find out without much interference from editors.
Reporters will be expected to put a smartphone in the face of sources and interview them on video.

The source is not an old curmudgeon like me either, the source is one of those 30-somethings with a good handle on technology and who knows the way around blogs, aggregation and RSS feeds and even to them it sounded like a muddled plan. Or in their words “a nightmare, honestly.”
It is clear that reporters will be expected to work themselves to the bone without an appropriate compensation to go with the expectations. As the source said – “the stress level is through the effing roof up there.”

And what about all the work for the print product? The interviewer  was dismissive of any extra work for the print product, adding that  “we believe that the paper will just end up filling itself."
Really, a newspaper that just fills itself up.  In the words of the source:

“Take a minute to think about how foolish that sounds. Papers don't "fill themselves" any more than my jalopy fills itself with gas.”
Sounds like the newspaper will simply be a dumping ground for the stuff that is pumped into the online product. And without proper layers of editing one can only imagine the poor quality that will result.

In the opinion of the source there is not much passion among those who have accepted new positions or those who have turned them down.
And in a final comment from the source:

“But you know as well as I do that the issue has never been the grunts on the ground, it's been the suits in GR. It always comes down to leadership.”
Or, in my words, the lack of it.