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Print Gets Hit


by Jerome Weeks 31 Oct 2008

Publications are hardly immune to the economic forces that have been hurting the arts. The Christian Science Monitor has shut down its weekly print edition after a century of continuous publication. So has Canada’s National Post (in two provinces, anyway). The Dallas Morning News recently laid off newsroom (and production and Al Dia ) staff. […]

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Publications are hardly immune to the economic forces that have been hurting the arts.

The Christian Science Monitor has shut down its weekly print edition after a century of continuous publication. So has Canada’s National Post (in two provinces, anyway). The Dallas Morning News recently laid off newsroom (and production and Al Dia ) staff. And now Conde Nast has ordered a five percent cut in staffing and another five percent cut in budget from all its publications (including the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired).

In addition, Men’s Vogue and Portfolio, which had expanded to 10 issues a year, have been cut back to just two. There go a lot of intelligent book and culture reviews.

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  • And don’t forget the Newark Star-Ledger, which a week ago bought out 151 writers and editors, nearly half the newsroom. The publisher had said 200 buyouts were needed to keep the paper open or prevent a sale. It’s the biggest single cut I can think of.

    There’s a lot more about this issue in Stop the Presses: The American Newspaper in Peril, a documentary I made with Mark Birnbaum now touring festivals and out as an educational DVD. Check out our website at stopthepressesdoc.com.

  • These are very hard times for newspapers. Part of the reason is clear. Many of the papers I’ve seen put more emphasis on pleasing advertisers, than pleasing readers. Seldom do they ask what the reader wants (when was the last time you were surveyed?), instead most of their time is put on how to add more ads. For example we are stuck with ads not only on the Sunday comics page (leave kids alone!) but on the front page usually reserved for hard news.

    Perhaps out of these ashes we will have a new no-ad newspaper that centers on the wishes of its readers. And hopefully won’t have to kowtow to any advertisers, the big businesses that can afford expensive ads.
    In the meantime a lot of good workers will likely loose their jobs, and that’s not fair to them.