Archive | December, 2011

Newspaper Job Cuts Surged 30 Percent In 2011

30 Dec

From Reflections of a Newsosaur

From Reflections of a Newsosaur, Dec. 13, 2011:

The number of jobs eliminated in the newspaper industry rose by nearly 30% in 2011 from the prior year, according to the blog that has been tracking the human toll on the industry for the last five years.

Meanwhile, a separate analysis confirms what most of us already suspected: The proportion of cutbacks was higher in newsrooms than it was for the industry as a whole – twice as high by the calculations I will share in a moment.

First, let’s take a look at the surprising surge of job cuts in 2011, a year that many newspaper people had hoped would be a time of relative stability after five years of successive revenue declines. Instead of steadying, advertising sales slid throughout 2011 and likely will come in at less than half of the record $49.4 billion achieved as recently as 2005.

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Come On In — The Water’s Fine

29 Dec

WELCOME TO THE new Denver Newspaper Guild website. Our goal is to create a dynamic site that we can use to communicate useful information, as well as create an online community to foster ideas and discussion among Guild members.

With contract negotiations coming up, this is the forum Tony Mulligan and members of the Bargaining Committee will use to keep Guild members updated on how talks are progressing.

I would encourage you to leave comments on posts to make your opinions known, to express ideas or just to offer up support. If you would like to write something longer for inclusion on the site, just give us a holler.

There are a few things I’d like to point out:

  • We Are The Guild is a way we can all get to know each other a little better — it’s just a brief Q&A and a photo. Click here for an example (I’m the guinea pig); the questionnaire is here. Go ahead and fill one out while you’re thinking about it.
  • The Grapevine is random collection of stories about MediaNews Group and Digital First gathered from around the Internet. There is no rhyme or reason to its organization; when I find something of interest, I’ll post it. These juicy bits will be categorized under The Grapevine. Feel free to add to The Grapevine by posting links in the comment section or emailing me.
  • Take a minute to read Tony Mulligan’s post about the restoration of some wage concessions, and vote in the poll about what should be restored first.
  • Be sure to check out Thomas McKay’s Newsroom Guild Update.
  • Take a minute to vote in the poll about how you think you’ll fare in the upcoming contract negotiations.

As for keeping up with new posts on the website, there are a couple of ways to do that without actually visiting the site:

  • Click  the “Follow” button down in the bottom right corner of the site to get new posts emailed to you
  • Click the “RSS” button in the menu at the top of the page to subscribe to the site’s RSS feed

Also, the website is mobile friendly, so check us out on your phone.

The Denver Newspaper Guild also maintains a Facebook page, so please “like” us to receive updates from that.

So, welcome — come on in and take a look around. This website is very much a work in progress as we figure out how to best use it to communicate with Guild members, so feel free to offer up suggestions and criticisms — I’d like to hear from you. You can email me at hamm.kevin@gmail.com.

Until next time,

Kevin Hamm
Representative Council

We Are The Guild: Kevin Hamm

28 Dec

Yes, Clara, piñatas do go to heaven.

We are the Guild — let’s get to know each other a little better.

Name
Kevin Hamm

Job
Community Journalist for YourHub

Age
43

Family
Wife, Kristin; Alice, 7, Sophie, 5, Charlie, 5, Clara, 3; dog, Hoover; cat, Oliver

Favorite Music
Varied: REM, Lyle Lovett, vocal jazz standards, loungy stuff — think Louis Prima, Pink Martini

You might be surprised to know …
Besides the fact I’ve got four kids? I used to live and breathe Ultimate Frisbee and won two national championships and played in the world championships.

When I’m not working I like to …
Play with my kids — anything involving a ball or a Frisbee. I also enjoy golf, tennis and skiing. Before kids, lots of travel and Ultimate. I used to read books, too.

Where you hail from and how you got here
I grew up on the Texas coast south of Houston, Seabrook to be exact. After getting a journalism degree from Texas A&M in 1990, my wife (though she wasn’t my wife then) and I moved to Breckenridge to be ski bums. That was supposed to last a year, but Kristin got hired on at the Summit Daily News (eventually becoming editor) and I worked at a bookstore and we moved to Frisco. After a couple of years I got tired of not having health insurance and paid vacation and got a job at a bank.

We moved down to Denver in 1997 and I worked in mortgage banking. In 2004, I took six months off when Alice was born, decided to switch careers and got on with YourHub a few weeks after it started up.

Why I like what I do
I enjoy community journalism because I feel it has an impact — though the issues are sometimes small, they’re important to the people who live in those communities and have a direct impact on their lives.

Click here to go to the We Are The Guild questionnaire. To see other profiles, click on the We Are The Guild category.

Poll: Upcoming Contract Negotiations

28 Dec

HOW DO YOU think you’ll fare in the upcoming contract negotiations? Feel free to leave a comment, too.

Thanks for playing.

 

John Paton’s Big Bet

27 Dec

From Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 2011:

“We’re no good at this,” John Paton says, sitting in a midtown Manhattan conference room on a gray, rainy spring day. “We” is the news business, and “this” is designing a viable future for it. “We have to figure it out.” He leans forward in his chair and adjusts his blue Hermès tie. “If this business model’s not fixed, the amount of American daily newspapers that won’t be here in five years will stagger you. They won’t make it.” The reporters and editors at Journal Register Company—a chain of eighteen daily newspapers and 176 non-daily newspapers, magazines, and websites in small markets throughout the Midwest and Northeast—should know. Paton took over as CEO of the company in February 2010 when the previously public company emerged out of bankruptcy as a private one.

Since then, Paton has engineered a radical makeover of JRC’s previous image as an old-fashioned, bottom-of-the-barrel corporate chain. He’s attracted industry attention for hiring digital big-thinkers like Columbia University’s Emily Bell, CUNY’s Jeff Jarvis, and NYU’s Jay Rosen to his advisory board. He’s stressed a culture of transparency, community engagement, slashing costs without any layoffs in editorial or sales, and, above all, an upending of the daily news production process that he says is a byproduct of a print schedule that is irrelevant by now.

“Digital first, print last” is the new JRC motto—that’s the order in which readers want the news, and so that should be the order in which outlets publish it. Paton hopes this culture change won’t just revitalize newspapers’ relationships with their readers; it’s his bet to push digital income high enough to replace the print revenue that he says will inevitably disappear.

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Digital First

27 Dec

From Buzz Machine, Nov. 3, 2011:

At CUNY’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, we invited John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, Journal Register, and Media News, and Justin Smith, CEO of Atlantic Media, to answer questions about how they are executing their digital first strategies. I interviewed them, digging down into revenue, costs, transition for staff, audience, and advertisers, and more. Here’s the full video:

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Newspapers’ Digital Apostle

21 Dec

From the New York Times, Nov. 13, 2011:

Last week, John Paton met with executives of the MediaNews Group, the second-largest newspaper chain by circulation in the country, home to papers like The Denver Post, The Detroit News, The Salt Lake Tribune and a broad swath of dailies throughout California, including The San Jose Mercury News.

Mr. Paton was given control of MediaNews by its owners in September based on his success operating the smaller Journal Register Company after it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. Among other feats, he increased digital revenue by over 200 percent in his first full year as chief executive.

According to Mr. Paton, his new employees at MediaNews were hoping to discern the silver bullet that would enable them not only to survive, but prosper. Instead, he worked his way through a detailed presentation about outsourcing most operations other than sales and editorial, focusing on the cost side that might include further layoffs, stressing digital sales over print sales with incentives, and using relationships with the community to provide some of the content in their newspapers.

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Also check out the Q&A with John Paton.

Steve Buttry: From A Dropped Paywall To A Social Media Pulitzer, Expect A Year Of Transformation

21 Dec

From Nieman Journalism Lab, Dec. 21, 2011:

We will see more newspaper-company transactions in 2012. After a few years where no one wanted to sell at the price the market had dropped to, we’ve had Journal Register Co., the Oklahoman, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and the Omaha World-Herald (am I forgetting one?) sell in the second half of 2011. I believe those sales have helped set the market value, and some people who were refusing to sell will swallow their losses and get out of the newspaper business.

In the transactions mentioned above, people with sufficient wealth appear to have bought the companies outright, taking on little or no debt. (Take the World-Herald, which was bought by the ultimate rich person, Warren Buffett, at the helm of the ultimate public company, Berkshire Hathaway.) I believe we’ll see more transactions involving publicly held companies in 2012. We may also see more creative transactions that fall short of a sale, such as the Journal Register Co./Digital First Media deal to manage MediaNews Group.

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Blood On The Newsroom Floor: MediaNews Merger

21 Dec

From Eats Shoots ‘n Leaves, Sept. 7, 2011:

MediaNews Group, the company that produces the largest share of California’s newspapers, is merging managerial functions with the Journal Register Co., with the new operation headed by Journal Register boss John Paton.

Paton, who is one of the newspaper world’s leading advocates of a transition to the digital realm, becomes the boss of most San Francisco Bay Area newspapers, now published by MediaNews’ Bay Area News Group, BANG [previously] — which had just announced a major consolidation of publications, transforming eight newspapers into three.

A hint of just what changes may lie ahead for California’s MediaNews papers may lie in this excerpt from a GigaOM post by Mathew Ingram:

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Newsroom Guild Update From Thomas McKay

21 Dec

RECENTLY SEVERAL PEOPLE have asked me Guild-related questions. I’ve put together a brief Q&A to keep you all updated.

What is the status of the newsroom unit now that Jeff Leib has left us?
Jeff was a tremendous worker for the Guild. He helped broker numerous contracts and was involved with many issues in the newsroom. Most recently Jeff served as unit chair. For those who didn’t see it, Jeremy Meyer wrote a nice sendoff.

Our bylaws state that the unit vice chair will assume the role of the unit chair until the next quarterly general membership meeting. So, until then, I am acting as unit chair.

Who are the unit officers?
Unit Chair — formerly Mr. Leib, currently Thomas McKay
Vice Chair — formerly Mr. McKay, currently open
Secretary — Sara Burnett

Here is a listing of the Guild leadership.

When is the next general membership meeting?
The meeting is scheduled for Jan. 23. We are supposed to hold unit elections during the January meeting anyway, so the buyout date was relatively timely. I promise to provide more details of the January meeting.

What is the status of bargaining for a new contract?
As I am sure you know, our current contract is set to expire March 11, 2012. The company requested that we begin bargaining this month, and we did indeed have an initial meeting Dec. 8. Nothing substantial came out of that meeting. Our lawyers (for the Guild and Teamsters) spoke with the company’s lawyer and we adjourned after the company lawyer requested more time to review past bargaining notes.

What’s the new contract going to look like?
Unfortunately my crystal ball was damaged many years ago. I do not know whether we will be asked to make further sacrifices or if all our concessions will be restored with pay raises for everyone. I am not counting on the latter. However, I can tell you that I do not want to go into bargaining simply listening to and deciding on issues the company brings to the table. We need to have a list of things we would like to discuss and get into our next contract. I am asking all of you to give this some thought and then talk to myself or Sara. Some possible issues:

  • Situations you may be aware of that could require new language in the contract.
  • Obsolete language that needs to be removed or updated.
  • Possible changes to your job given our digital-first future.

If anyone needs a copy of our current contract, please let me know. You can also find it here.

Who is going to be on the bargaining team?
It is the unit chair’s responsibility to assemble a bargaining team. I will be asking some of you to join the team. It is a unique experience to help The Post in shaping its future.

I think that is quite enough from me. As I said before, please do not hesitate to speak with myself, Sara and among yourselves about our Guild. We all have an interest in what is going on at our place of employment and the Guild gives us the opportunity to make it an even better place.

You can email me at tmckay@denverpost.com.