Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Beacon Watch: Don't Watch the Beacon Updated

At the House of Pho we subscribe to the print edition of the BJ on weekends and pick up stories online during the week. Today we got a copy of the print edition because, as you can see, it's a bonus day. Which led to an odd discovery: No story about the layoffs. Anywhere. Not on the front page. Not, as you can see, in the preview box. Nowhere.

Goddamit! My biz section stuck to the back of sports, which I didn't check. So instead of spiking the story altogether, the BJ just buried it. Hat tip to reader Rick in Medina for pointing it out.


Cruised over to Ohio.com -- same story. Nothing in the News or Breaking News tabs. If you already have the link, you can check out the story posted last night, but I couldn't find it on the site.

I have to wonder if someone in Western Canada objected to the coverage. Though it's not like they can keep it under wraps.

Meanwhile, some anonymice who appear to be in the know -- based on SiteMeter hits possibly staffers -- have posted some comments worth rescuing:

  • Yo...announcement on layoffs was indeed made today. 25 percent of the newsroom cut. Gone -- after 60-days -- will be some well known bylines, parents that are sole breadwinners in their households, single moms, folks who uprooted their families to come work at the once heralded place. Cuts include 11 reporters, 8 copy editors, 7 student correspondents (students at local colleges who do a terrific job -- sort of like longterm internships), 4 photogs, 3 clerks, 2 artists and 1 librarian. These are the Guild -- union jobs. In addition, three managers were cut. See more on the retirees' blog --- Google Akron Beacon retirees blog -- that should get you there. Cuts expected to save $2.3 million a year -- that is indeed in the newsroom alone, according to folks on the inside.[R]
  • [R]eporters cited in your post were indeed hit -- Abrams, Abraham, Reed, Thomas, Storm, McManamon and Wallace. In addition, Armon, Mackinnon, Massey and Estwick. All very, very sad.
  • Addendum to above -- voluntary resig. being accepted 60 days.... would reduce no. of layoffs, which would be a terrif. thing, but positions still gone forever
Update: You can read about the BJ cut in the Plain Dealer, including some historical context:

    The Beacon Journal's new owner has said profits have declined by half during the last several years and are expected to drop again this year. The newspaper has about 135,000 daily subscribers. Employment was cut in 2001 with the first newsroom layoffs in the newspaper's history. A voluntary buyout followed.

    "We knew the cuts were going to be deep . . . but it's a tough day here at the paper," said Andale Gross, Akron unit chair for the newspaper union. "We lost a significant number of people out of the newsroom. We lost some special talent."
By the way, the BJ isn't the only area paper feeling the economic pinch. If you missed it, here's how the PeeDee is dealing.

13 comments:

Swanny said...

How can Black Press focus on local stories when they are getting rid of local writers? Sounds like a prelude to disaster for the venerable ABJ. It also sounds like someone at Black is busy managing the P&L statement to bring expenses back in line with revenue.

What exactly does this mean? Simple, cut local talent to a minimum and run wire stories for most of the content. They can spread the cost of the wire feed across every newspaper in the chain. You can bet someone at Black Press is getting a nice year-end bonus for slicing $2.3 million out of the ABJ newsroom.

My guess is that this is only the beginning of cost cutting. By the end of the year, the ABJ will have a headcount of 50% of what it started with at the beginning of the year.

Rich in Medina said...

to be fair....the front page of the business section did have coverage of the layoffs. I am disappointed in all of this. Eric Mansfields blog quoted Mr. Black and his thoughts on newsroom staffers. But, bottonline, electronic journalism, including blogs like this, are resulting in decreased sales and lost advertising dollars.

Anonymous said...

Go Rich. News of the layoffs was on the biz front. Pho must not read that section. Blogs like this ain't the problem, though. It's advertisers going to Monster.com, inserts, direct mail, fractured TV markets (networks, cable) other mass media venues. There are a lot more pieces in the ad space pie and yes circulation does play a role. In addition, advertisers are consolidating.

Anonymous said...

Go Rich. News of the layoffs was on the biz front. Pho must not read that section. Blogs like this ain't the problem, though. It's advertisers going to Monster.com, inserts, direct mail, fractured TV markets (networks, cable) other mass media venues. There are a lot more pieces in the ad space pie and yes circulation does play a role. In addition, advertisers are consolidating.

Anonymous said...

Go Rich. News of the layoffs was on the biz front. Pho must not read that section. Blogs like this ain't the problem, though. It's advertisers going to Monster.com, inserts, direct mail, fractured TV markets (networks, cable) other mass media venues. There are a lot more pieces in the ad space pie and yes circulation does play a role. In addition, advertisers are consolidating.

mencken said...

Just wondering if more folks got the Beacon seven days a week rather than just on the weekends, would the Beacon be in better shape? The righteous indignation is touching and all of that, but how many of you are putting your money where your mouth is ? If the Beacon ain't worth an extra $1.75
(Monday thru Friday) a week, I'm not sure what all the whining is about here.

Anonymous said...

Go Mencken. You hit the nail on the head. My mind reels that people will pay $1.75 or more for a Starbucks, Angel Falls (which would be a better thing!) or whatever-coffee-shop-you-choose and think nothing of it.
Plus, it's difficult to get a sense of the paper online. Sure, you can read individual stories online, but you don't have a sense of all that's there. It's like looking at an abbreviated menu that leaves out a lot of the best dishes.

Swanny said...

Mencken, Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Why should I buy and ABJ when I can read the same stories on their website for free? I can't think of any other business that operates under this model. More and more newspapers are going to an online subscription, which is exactly where I see the ABJ heading.

mencken said...

I don't know Swanny, why leave anymore than 5% to
your waitress? I mean it's not like they'll ban you from the restaurant. Why should you send money to WKSU or WAPS when you can listen for free ? Do you want to ensure good service? Do want to wake up some morning to dead air ? Why pay for iTunes when you can steal the music for free using Limewire? Do you support a free press and intellectual property or don't you ?

My point is still -how can anyone call Black Press cheap bastards when you won't pay for the product in the first place ? It's like a bread thief complaining
the bread is stale.

TKE House said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Swanny said...

Well Mencken, Ohio.com is subsidized by the advertising that it sells. WKSU is a non-profit and is funded by lister donations and some government support. Two completely different business models, so your argument is a bit specious.

Again, I don't disagree with Black Press make moves to run a more profitable business. I just don't understand why they fail to see the problems inherent with selling a product in one form (paper) while giving it away for free in another (Ohio.com).

Mencken said...

Overhead is overhead and revenue is revenue. You have to stay in the black ( yeah I get it) no matter what your business model is. And if you don't think WKSU and WAPS depend on advertising revenue, then listen a little more closely. True, it's not Clarke Ford screaming at you, but it's there.

You support what you care about. There's nothing specious about that.

Anonymous said...

Again, I weigh in with my argument that reading articles online doesn't give you the whole paper experience. If you're not subscribing to the paper and just plucking off articles online, you're getting a totally different experience than reading the hard version.

Not sure that papers have had a whole lot of success with online subs. ... the Columbus Dispatch tried it -- now the Dispatch's site is again free.