Oct 8, 2009

Cuts, consolidation and reorganization at the Oregonian

With a buyout offer on the table and the specter of layoffs looming, the executive editor of the Oregonian newspaper yesterday released a memo - obtained by Oregon Media Central - that outlines a major restructuring of the paper's newsroom.

From the memo:
We are committed to the principles and values that have defined print journalism and will not shirk our responsibility to serve as a watchdog on government and the powerful. At the same time, we need to evolve our journalism, embrace the two-way nature of the Web world and be even more responsive to a public that expects more of a conversation with us.


We will not abandon our foundation of beat reporting, but beats will be redefined along areas of expertise of most interest to our readers. Some beats will be eliminated because with fewer people we cannot cover everything that we have in the past.
The smaller newsroom will be split into two parts. The first, with between 60 and 70 staffers, will focus on "local expertise and enterprise reporting." The second, with about 40 reporters and editors, including interns, will focus on "community." There will also be an "editing and producing" hub that will endeavor to push stories out onto the web more quickly with fewer rigid deadlines. As with most newspaper cuts these days, the change also means fewer copy editors and designers to check quality. Again, from the memo:
We also need to streamline editing operations and simplify newspaper production since we will be losing many copy editors and designers. We must move toward “one-touch editing.”
In addition, all photographers and photo editors will need to be trained in both still and video.

The Oregonian is owned by the Newhouse family, which operates the paper through its Advance Publications company. Advance also runs Condé Nast Publications, which recently shuttered Gourmet and Portfolio magazines and which has made significant cuts to many of its other magazine operations. Advance newspapers include the New Orleans Times Picayune, Cleveland Plain Dealer and New Jersey Star-Ledger. The Times-Picayune recently offered buyouts to all employees.


Anonymous said...

We must move toward “one-touch editing.”

THIS is the True Mark of the Media Beast!

The Road to Journalistic Hellfire and Damnation!

Congratulations Newhouse Family, you have entered The Spiritual Estate of Wm. Dean Singleton, Dark Interloper of Newspapers and Freebooter of a Free Press.

May the Ghosts of Ben Franklin, Isaiah Thomas and Noah Webster haunt your darkening hallways, always.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Anonymous. The End is Nigh.

Or is has it already occurred and we're traveling on The Road?

Anonymous said...

Laughably petty and strained to tie the oregonian piece to singleton. Just stoopid.

Anonymous said...

They have many miles to go before they come near singleton's efforts.

Anonymous said...

They have many miles to go before they come near singleton's efforts.

Yes, in his efforts to destroy journalism in America for the love of profit, yes, we'd have to go a very long way.

Anonymous said...

... strained to tie the oregonian piece to singleton

No strain or effort needed. The Newhouse Family are using Uncle Dean's time tested, tried and true template of radically reducing staff, deeply lowering the bar of journalistic standards and undermining the purpose of journalism to serve the public good.

Not one bit of stretch or strain to make that connection. :)

In the meantime, Stay Calm and Carry On.

Anonymous said...

One-touch editing? Right. The O is as top heavy as an inverted pyramid.

Whatever shall those editors/assistant editors/copy editors/picture editors/graphics editors/managing editors/section editors/ assistant section editors/ editor-of-editors do?

Anonymous said...

what they have always done at large newspapers.

michiganmom said...

I have worked for two Newhouse papers in the past. They used to be called "golden handcuff" papers because there was little turnover and good pay.

Now their guaranteed employment pledge is gone.

And any newspaper group that thinks cutting copy editors and designers is a good move doesn't deserve to survive this holocaust.

Anonymous said...

I get no kicks from defending ownership. Ad revenues have fallen through the toilet and most won't be back as in the good old days. Classified is long gone although you can still make a buck. There is no way you can keep the same number of employees when revenue dips that much and stay in business. Newhouse has been for the most part a class organization, as was the L A Times until about 15 or so years ago. Things change and it is not fun, but, you need to manage yor expensed versus revenue and to do otherwise is not smart and will put the entire produce on a ledge. Remember the velvet coffin moniker in Los Angeles? What newspapers can and should do is invest in talent that can grow revenue by being smart, understand the complexity of print and online and work them together for a fair price and results. If you provid that you will be in good shape. In a perfect world I doubt the newspapers who have been good, loyal and caring would be going trough this...their lon term record doesn't support the glee in cuts a lot of people seem to think.

Anonymous said...

They held out as long as they could but come on you just can't have a newsroom that size and expect to survive in today's news economy.
They should have started using good sense five years ago but the blindness of no competition gave them a false sense of survival.

Anonymous said...

Why is there this thought that video is the save-all for photography departments?

Some of the early and best equiped newspapers in the country have started to reduce the use of video on their sites.

Anonymous said...

Why is there this thought that video is the save-all for photography departments?

That idea got a lot of very talented photographers fired or marginalized. They were replaced by "videographers" and, ahem, "visual journalists" who made YouTube vloggers look exciting, talented and well-informed.

Anonymous said...

October 9, 2009 8:00 PM said: I get no kicks from defending ownership ...

Well, your wearisome defense of said ownership didn't seem to engender much support now, did it?

Are your newsroom monologues just as riveting?

You can't blame the economy or advertising slumps for everything.

Profit-drooling ownership will have to tighten their own belts from here on out if they still want to run newspapers.

There is nothing left to bleed out our newsrooms.

Anonymous said...

october 12 at 6:07.

Yow seem to think if that is appropriate that all on this blog are newsroom. You would be wrong.

If you knew anything about the Newshouse organization ove the years you would know they were way to loose with their money and as one person said earlier, they should have started to tighten years ago.

This is not a singleton newspaper or company. I wouldn't begin to argue that newsrooms have been decimated and the product truly suffers.

By the way, not looking for support, just stating my opinion right or wrong.

In this case, the collapse of advertising especially classified did cause the vast profit drain /revenue loss at newspapers. It isn't coming back...but you may disagree.