Dec 17, 2009

Not much cheer here

In what might be his final chance to do so, Joe Strupp of the soon-to-be shuttered Editor & Publisher put out his Top Ten Newspaper Industry Stories for the year. Here's number one:
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS - More than 40,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2009, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is nearly twice the 21,000 cut in 2008 and more than any single year in the past 10 years. Even with furloughs, salary cuts and numerous retirement fund freezes, publishers lopped off a tragic number of positions, even as they sought to expand online and, of course, increase workloads for those who remain. The count at the end of 2009 is 284,220 jobs. In 1999, that number was at 424,500. If things don't slow down, any attempt to properly cover news, and write and edit it, will be lost if it hasn't been already.
Adding to the tally this week are the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, which are laying off as many as 66 newsroom staffers between them.

Of course, 2009 has been cruel to workers across the spectrum. But even if the economy turns around, it's unlikely newspaper companies plan to add 40,000 to the payrolls next. So, will we finally see a robust and sustainable online newsroom take shape in 2010? Is "hyperlocal" still the mantra of the managers? Are we going to have to suffer through another year of "walled gardens" vs. "link economy" debates? Stay tuned.

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