An annual convention of newspaper editors has been canceled for the first time since World War II, undone by the worst economic crisis since that harrowing era.
The American Society of Newspapers Editors’ decision to skip this year’s meeting was announced Friday, coinciding with the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News—the largest daily U.S. newspaper to shut down so far during a steep two-year slide in advertising revenue that’s draining the life out of the industry.
“The industry is in crisis,” said Charlotte Hall, president of the trade group and editor of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel. “This is a time when editors need to be in their own news rooms doing everything they can,” to help their publications survive.
Until now, 1945 had been the only year that the American Society of Newspaper Editors didn’t meet since the group’s first convention in 1923. The newspaper industry weathered through 10 U.S. recessions since the last cancellation.
If it hadn’t been canceled, this year’s convention—scheduled from April 26-29 in Chicago—probably would have attracted a sparse crowd because so many newspapers are pinching pennies to ease their financial pain.
Newspaper staffs have been gutted, stock dividends have been suspended and, in the most extreme circumstances, bankruptcy petitions have been filed as more readers get their news for free from the Internet and advertisers curtail their spending on the print medium amid the recession.
Other related industries like magazine publishers have decided to cancel. Others are scaling back in reaction to the economic realities. The fact is most of these confabs will never come back. Their underlying industries are whistling past the graveyard.
The biggest problem for the music industry is that rather than attempting to understand its customers and cater to them (a vast majority of music lovers wanted to download single songs for portable playback), it fought them. If that wasn’t enough of an insult the industry even lobbied congress and criminalized the fair use of content that a great many had paid for when they copied music from CD’s to portables. The internet has facilitated the free exchange of information like nothing that has come before it, and one of the forms of exchange has been some piracy. By lobbying to make what had been considered fair use into piracy by the DMCA act, the industry lost it’s grip on reality and made most legitimate users into pirates. Now even those who pay for music are in the lawsuit crosshairs when they copy to another device.
Details have been spilling out over the last few days that the RIAA has been making pretty massive cuts to staff. We already knew that EMI was cutting back on its support of the RIAA/IFPI, and it seems that with the rest of the RIAA’s major label supporters also having economic troubles, the writing is on the wall that the RIAA is about to go through a major transformation. I’m sure some will somehow “blame piracy” for this turn of events, but it’s hard to see how that’s even remotely the issue. The real issue is that the RIAA has basically managed to run one of the dumbest, most self-defeating strategies over the last decade. Rather than helping major record labels adjust to the changing market, it continually, repeatedly and publicly destroyed its own reputation and the reputation of the labels — each time shrinking their potential market by blaming the very people they should have been working to turn into customers. (Techdirt)
Yahoo is in the throes of a management shakeup having acquired a new CEO. One of the oddities is that the current CFO seems to have discovered his demise via an 8K SEC filing? –
Yahoo! has told the world that chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen is leaving the company. The struggling web portal announced the news this morning with an SEC filing.
The announcement comes less than a day after Jorgensen told an investor conference that Yahoo! had not ruled out the possibility of striking some sort of internet-search pact with Steve Ballmer and Microsoft.
“We want to do it for the right reasons and the right economics,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
Earlier this week, reports indicated that new CEO Carol Bartz was preparing to reorganize the company’s management structure. And this morning, Bartz announced the reorg with a blog post this morning – though she did not mention Jorgensen’s departure.
But there is an even odder bit in my view –
Details were few, but she did announce the creation of a new Customer Advocacy group. “After getting a lot of angry calls at my office from frustrated customers, I realized we could do a better job of listening to and supporting you. Our Customer Care team does an incredible job with the amazing number of people who come to them, but they need better resources. So we’re investing in that. After all, you deserve the very best.
“We’re also leaning on this team to make sure we’re all hearing the voice of our customers (consumers and advertisers).”
Now in most cases that translates to ‘customer damage control’. I would find it a very un-novel way to reach out to the customer base and see where improvements need to be made. Generally that kind of fact finding is done by the CEO themselves their first year in tenure. Carol better hit the online video conferencing circuit NOW.
If you are a news organization and insist on clinging to the idea that news is only news when it appear as as ink on paper, your days are numbered. There is still one daily paper in Denver, but with dead trees continuing to be its delivery medium of choice, it’s time will come too. As for the reaming big city dailies, survival can come in the form of a tiny staff, and online interactive delivery.
“Today the Rocky Mountain News, long the leading voice in Denver, becomes a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges,” Scripps CEO Rich Boehne said.
Scripps said the paper lost $16 million last year.
Financial problems are widespread in the newspaper industry as the economy has deteriorated, ad revenue has tumbled, readers have gravitated toward the Internet and advertisers have followed them.
Four owners of 33 U.S. daily newspapers have sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the past 2 1/2 months. A number of other papers are up for sale.
This past weekend, there were separate bankruptcy filings by New Haven (Connecticut) Register publisher Journal Register Co. and by the owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.
They followed a December filing by Tribune Co., whose media stable includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, and January’s filing by the owners of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Other publishers could seek bankruptcy protection in the coming months, too, as advertising prospects for 2009 remain bleak.
Hearst Corp. announced earlier this week it will close or sell the San Francisco Chronicle if it can’t reduce expenses dramatically within the next few weeks. Last month, Hearst laid out plans to close the Seattle Post-Intelligencer if a buyer isn’t found before April. And Gannett Co. is looking for a buyer for the Tucson Citizen in Arizona.
Boehne said the Rocky Mountain News’ 230 editorial employees would be paid through April 28.
[Dog] An introspective of sorts by the RMN of the RMN here.
The Third Pipe version of an old cliche: If you want to get a degree, go to college. If you want to learn, go online. As an ever increasing number of universities put their coursework, lectures and libraries on line, there is not much that the self directed student can’t learn from the screen and keyboard. While the “structure” of scheduled classes and exams may slow the less disciplined of us, the rest of us can learn more in less time. beyond learning, you’ll miss out on the socializing, condescending instructors and high costs if you go it alone. And then there’s the degree. Having one proves you paid your tuition, attended class and passed your exams, but does not prove you actually know anything.
If you’re eager to learn outside of university, there’s an excellent collection of links at the .EDU toolbox. The best time to learn something new is now!