Big changes coming to traditional newspapers

While the nation focuses on the upcoming election next week, many major media companies are making important announcements that are flying under the public’s radar.

A man reads a newspaper column about Rudy Giuliani. (Photo/Jason Kosena)
A man reads a newspaper column about Rudy Giuliani. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

Just this week, The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) announced it will cut its daily print product in April 2009 and print only a weekend edition in order to focus attention and resources to its Web site. The CSM has printed for more than 100 years and is funded by the Church of Christ, Scientist which has been willing to underwrite previous losses at the newspaper during economic downturns. The shift to an online operation — and the expected layoffs that are sure to follow — is yet another indicator of the secular shift of advertising revenue the newspaper industry as a whole is experiencing. CSM’s latest decision shows the newspaper most likely does not see lost revenues ever returning again, good economy and all.

Also this week, in what could be seen as a direct attempt to compete with the Associated Press, Atlanta-based CNN announced it is starting a wire service for newspapers and other digital media organizations. The Associated Press has struggled in recent months because an increasing number of member newspapers are terminating their subscriptions with the wire service when their contracts end. CNN is offering newspaper editors an all-expense-paid trip to Atlanta so that they can better learn about the new wire service, which will cover sports, current events, politics and breaking news.

More layoffs among the nation’s largest publishers were also announced this week on the heels of expectedly low third quarter earnings reports. The L.A. Times sent a memo to employees on Monday indicating another 75 positions, or about 10 percent of its staff, would likely be cut by the end of Monday. The Palm Beach Post in Florida, which cut 300 jobs earlier this summer, announced it would cut an additional 300 positions by early next year.

Finally, following days of Internet rumors that said more cuts were coming to Gannett newspapers, newspaper chief Bob Dickey sent a memo to all 84 Gannett publishers Tuesday morning indicating an involuntary 10 percent staff reduction company-wide by early December. Although Gannett isn’t releasing figures, nearly 3,000 jobs are expected to be lost in the budget cutting move. Gannett, which owns the Fort Collins Coloradoan, recently employed 3 percent company-wide cuts earlier this summer.

The wave of cutbacks in America’s newsrooms have totaled more than 12,000 jobs this year and more are expected as the industry continues to find its place in the Internet world.

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