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Old Media, Bleeding Out

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From the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

An underperforming division of New York Times Co. is launching a cost-cutting effort that includes offering buyouts to employees and outsourcing some job functions.

New York Times’ New England Media Group, which includes the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette, is targeting 125 positions in the staff reduction. The bulk of the reduction will be at the Boston Globe, according to Al Larkin, executive vice president at the newspaper…

To reach the company’s staff reduction target, about 70 veteran employees of the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette will be offered voluntary buyout packages starting later this month. The number includes 19 people from the newsroom and opinion pages of the Boston Globe, Mr. Larkin said.

The appendix of the modern newspaper’s body is its editorial page and the writers and editors who work there.  Nothing is so abundant and free than opinion writing on the web, and it is of a much, much higher quality than that in newspapers, even those of the greatest reputation.  Columnists dominate this segment now, and aggregators like and are the one-stop shopping centers for opinion journalism.

Publishers attached to the old idea of citizens opening their papers to the editorial pages to learn of the latest goings on in the world and to receive wise guidance on how to interpret those events as well as informed suggestions on whom to support in the state wide elections are deluding themselves.  Dump the lot and save the cost.

Here’s a test: Ask how many online page views the editorials receive each day?  The same test can be applied to in-house columnists.  A very few of the latter (Lopez in LA; Lileks in Minneapolis) and almost none of the former will be generating traffic, which means they are boring or irrelevant or both.  It is a disservice to shareholders to continue to subsidize the cushy life of the windy semi-retired at the expense of the profitability of the enterprize.


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