Newspapers have come under a lot of criticism for not being innovative enough in transitioning from dead-tree to digital and social media. A new survey of editors by the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) group may help explain why newsrooms find it challenging. Asked what stood in the way of change, 67.7 per cent of respondents said they didn't have the staff and 57.5 per cent said they didn't have money (multiple answers allowed). Which is not to say their newsrooms haven't changed at all in the past 16 months:
- 64.9 per cent laid off staff
- 80.5 per cent eliminated open positions
- 30.1 per cent reduced people's hours
- 43.1 per cent put staff on furloughs
- 29.5 per cent cut wages
- 40.7 per cent eliminated sections
- 52.5 per cent merged sections
- 7.1 per cent stopped publishing some days of the week.
Almost three-quarters of the editors surveyed said their ability to fulfill their basic function of informing readers was diminished. The detailed survey results make for sad reading.
Here's something to ponder: Two new investigations into the future of news that couldn't be more different.
1. Moving Into Multiple Business Models: Outlook for Newspaper Publishing in the Digital Age. This report authored by PriceWaterhouseCoopers asserts that newspapers must keep on reducing costs, increase outsourcing of "generic editorial" functions, further centralize newsrooms and ad salesforces and continue consolidating ownership while putting more emphasis on multi-platform publishing and marketing to niche audiences.
2. Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy. This report published by the media reform organization Freepress urges the U.S. government to recognize that preserving public-interest journalism is a pressing public policy issue that requires its intervention. It wants the government to introduce incentives that would encourage debt-laden media companies to divest themselves of news business assets while fostering the creation of non-profit, low-profit, community-owned and employee-owned news organizations. It also calls on the U.S. government to create a strong publicly funded news system similar to the Britain's BBC or Canada's CBC.
Selected articles from the April 2009 issue of Journalism of possible interest to the journalism community:
Towards a `Foxification' of 24-hour news channels in Britain?: An analysis of market-driven and publicly funded news coverage, by Stephen Cushion and Justin Lewis
Making good sense: Transformative processes in community journalism, by Michael Meadows, Susan Forde, Jacqui Ewart, and Kerrie Foxwell
From gospel to news: Evangelicalism and secularization of the Protestant missionary press in China, 1870s—1900s, by Yong Z. Volz and Chin-Chuan Lee
Broader and deeper: A study of newsroom culture in a time of change, by David M. Ryfe
Review Commentary: Is the BBC biased?: The Corporation and the coverage of the 2006 Israeli—Hezbollah war, by Ivor Gaber, Emily Seymour, and Lisa Thomas
Click 'More' to read article abstracts.
Edited by David Secko and Lisa Lynch
This section highlights the latest scholarly studies of journalism as a practice and as an institution.
David Secko is an associate professor of journalism at Concordia University in Montreal. He teaches science reporting and does research on theoretical practices in science journalism. Lisa Lynch is an associate professor of journalism at Concordia University. Her work on journalism, culture and technology has appeared in publications ranging from New Literary History to the Arab Studies Journal.
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