Submitted by Roldo on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 16:00.

Since American automakers are having a tough time would you accept a new auto with a couple of doors missing so the company could save some money?

Would an automaker dare ask a customer for such a concession?

Newspapers – having a financially tough time – are asking just about that – less newspaper, fewer stories, and light content and soon at a higher cost.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism today issued a report of a survey of newspapers about “The Changing Newsroom.”

Among its conclusions:

  • “The majority of newspapers are now suffering cutbacks in staffing, and even more in the amount of news, or newshole (as the amount of space for news is called), they offer the public.”
  • “Papers both large and small have reduced the space, resources and commitment devoted to a range of topics… In effect, America’s newspapers are narrowing their reach and their ambitions and becoming niche reads.”
  • We all can notice that in the Plain Dealer, which has cutback rather severely and made other graphic decisions that slice the reality of the newshole even more, as in its Page 2 nonsense “Five things you should know” and other wasteful blurbs. The paper also continues to eat up space with dispensable articles from other Ohio cities. We want Cleveland news, Ms. Goldberg!
  • The culture of the daily newsroom is also changing. New job demands are drawing a generation of young, versatile, tech-savvy, high-energy staff as financial pressure drive out higher-salaried veteran reporters and editors.”

The study, however, comments on this change and its effect on institutional memory, so important to understand what is happening.

“In the survey responses, the loss of talent and experience was ranked as the number one concern when editors were asked to volunteer what has hurt their newsrooms the most. Fully 41 percent of editors survey offered comments that fell into this category… ‘When you have to let  go someone who has been in a job for 5, 10 or 20 years, you lose something that cannot be recouped by the people who are left behind in the newsroom,’ commented one editor, who counted the passing of institutional knowledge as the newsroom’s biggest loss.”

And this is sad for any kind of institution: “When asked to cite the newsroom loss that hurt the most, one editor answered simply, ‘The concept of who and what we are.’”

We are losing our newspaper here under Terry Egger and Susan Goldberg as it changes from what was a document of at least some record to a cosmetic version of what used to be a newspaper.

Institutional Memory

  As we have said before--newspapers have been our record of note.  What do we save as a record of this time?  What does yesterday's Plain Dealer say about our community? Libraries can't save everything.  How will we be remembered? 

And, as a country, do our newspapers even reflect the lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan and the other unreported conflicts carried out in our name?  Flash back to the newspaper reports from the forties, fifties, sixties, you will see the stories of local families affected by war.  

Day after lead poisoning press conference...

One day after the GCLAC press conference about Lead Awareness Week in NEO, which is and offers news, the PD features its new Tuesday "Health" section without a word about lead poisoning, lead poisoning awareness week, free lead testing in the community this week, or anything important.

Disrupt IT

Now that the PD is $.75...

I must say, at two quarters I could always scrape up change for a PD, and bought it first thing each morning. At about a buck - and the first 75 cent'r, Monday, was the thinnest PD in history - I'm tending not to bother. I bought 50% of the days this week, spending $1.50 on two PDs... I would have spent $2.00 on four PDs... that puts their revenues down by 25% for me so far.

Disrupt IT