Fallout, part 1
The Pasadena Star-News is losing another reporter. This time, however, the separation is voluntary. Molly Okeon announced today she is leaving to take a job at the Daily Journal in Los Angeles.
That leaves five reporters in the Star-News newsroom - half the number that was there when I left only a couple years ago - and that felt thin enough.
Complicating matters, the Singleton papers have a hiring freeze in place, which will make finding a replacement difficult.
Anytime there are layoffs there is a risk that low morale will cause defections. The problem is exacerbated at papers where the staff has already been depleted. Too few people being asked to do more with less isn't a recipe for success, or even sane.
Unfortunately, there is little anyone can do unless MediaNews decides to reinvest, rather than constantly retrench.
It appears to me that Singleton is holding onto the papers for their name brand more than anything else. The Sun, The Star-News, The Press-Telegram, still mean something. He's parking on domain names, waiting for the magic intersection of trend lines, when rising online ad revenues finally meet the dwindling profits from print ads.
In the meantime, I think he risks turning his Southern California newspapers into cannibals, the journalistic equivalent of the Donner party.