The Herald shrinks

The incredible shrinking Herald has shrunk further.

A drop in advertising amid tough economic times is exacting a toll on Canada’s newspapers, with the Halifax Chronicle Herald giving layoff notices to almost a quarter of its newsroom staff while the Globe and Mail revealed details of a previously announced plan to cut 10 per cent of its workforce.

“It’s a terrible day,” Dan Leger, the Halifax newspaper’s director of news content, said Tuesday. “It’s an absolutely horrible day.

“This is something we fought tooth and nail to resist but the numbers just kept getting worse and worse and worse and we just don’t know where they’re going to end.”

The newspaper didn’t specify how many people are affected but Rick Conrad, vice-president of the Halifax Typographical Union, said 24 of 103 reporters, editors and photographers will receive notices.

The writing was on the newsroom wall. These are troubled times they say.  Newspapers all over are shedding staff like snakes shed their skins.

Frank magazine had already heard the news natch, and in its last issue [551] suggested the Herald is taking advantage of “hard times” .

…there’s lots of talk of saving money at the Herald… But are they as troubled as they are made out to be? Might they be a bit exaggerated in advance of a new round of Herald cuts? Some folks close to the action think so. Surely, the Herald wouldn’t use the recession to exploit employees.

They can’t get the numbers on a private company so, who knows. But then the Franklander suggests which of the staff might be surplus to requirements. After all with less space to put copy there is need for less copy.

But was the right deadwood axed?

...if they are gonna start taking the axe to the newsroom, they’ll [sic] also going to have to take a look at upper-middle management, where traditionally, it has been a very, very, easy,not to mention lucrative, place for the Herald deadwood to hang out.

The reality is more and more people are getting their news online. The challenge is to make that pay.

Under a micropayment system, a newspaper might decide to charge a nickel for an article or a dime for that day’s full edition or $2 for a month’s worth of Web access. Some surfers would balk, but I suspect most would merrily click through if it were cheap and easy enough.

But the product better be worth it. Stop listing to port, and just give the facts ma’am. Otherwise we won’t pay.  Someone at the Herald better get working on that full time, before more heads roll.

Later: Related.

Mass media builds community. Or at least it did.

The newspaper crisis is a symptom of a broader problem. We are in danger of losing institutions that cut across income, race, culture, gender and age to provide a shared intellectual space in society. We are in danger of losing one of the few activities that forces us, even briefly, to consider people, ideas and interests different than our own.

But it doesn’t anymore because in general the press only gives one side of the equation. Until there is more balance in the media the polarisation (and the loss of readership) will continue.

Later – RELATED:

Don’t tell me newspapers are dying. Newspapers are killing themselves. They are literally becoming news anorexics.

Read the rest at Ottawa Watch

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