Sunday, March 29, 2009

Newspaper Collapse 101

There's been endless speculation on both the short-term and long term future of newspapers. Most of it has been uninformed and ill-considered. (In fact, I ignored the first wave of it, since much of that was politically-fueled "serves 'em right!" posting by morons. Also, as I've said before, I tend to gravitate to the "let it go" stance on any collapse.)

Clearly, though, the crunch is here. I've already lost one major great video production gig because of the downturn -- we made one video out of a planned 32 just as things hit and the project disappeared.

And as someone who has freelanced (a lot) for the New York Times I've kept an eye out for stories on their future as well. For example:

Times Co. Announces Temporary Salary Cuts

"Also on Thursday, The Times laid off 100 people in its business operations, and Mr. Keller said it would make other cuts, like reducing spending on freelancers by 10 to 15 percent and possibly consolidating some sections."
So what do we know, and what's the real deal? Well, the clearest, most level-headed article I've seen on this lately is here, by the excellent writer Donna Trussell:

Newspapers: It’s All Over But the Cryin’
"For years my interest in media’s evolution was tepid at best. Until now. As Samuel Johnson noted, hanging at dawn tends to focus the mind. My husband, a Kansas City Star journalist since 1977, was just cut to part time.

What do you do if, after 32 years on the job, your industry suddenly starts to crater? Do you accept the part-time offer? Leave? Sue? Launch your own website?

For guidance I turned to the Internet."
Go and see what she found....

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