The new owners of the Tribune Co., which publishes the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune (among other papers), are going to be making widespread changes to their 12 publications, including massive layoffs, and balancing content and advertising in a 50/50 ratio on news pages, according to the New York Times, in an article entitled: Tribune Co. Plans Sharp Cutbacks at Papers.
Here’s the “logic” they’re using:
…the struggling company has looked at the column inches of news produced by each reporter, and by each paper’s news staff. Finding wide variation, they said, they have concluded that it could do without a large number of news employees and not lose much content.
This makes about as much sense as measuring computer programmers by how many lines of code they produce. In other words, none at all. Based on what I read in the article, you can kiss goodbye to serious journalism at any of these newspapers.
Mr. Michaels [chief operating officer] said that, after measuring journalists’ output, “when you get into the individuals, you find out that you can eliminate a fair number of people while eliminating not very much content.” He added that he understood that some reporting jobs naturally produce less output than others.
Yeah, sure. He “understands”. That’s why his metrics emphasize quantity over quality, and he puts a newspaper that has won 37 Pulitzer prices (the LAT) in the same category as one that has won two (the HC).
The Los Angeles Times produced 51 pages of news for each journalist there, while the figure for two other Tribune papers, The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant, is more than 300 pages.
In other words, the staff at the LAT are bleeped.
Surveys show readers want “maps, graphics, lists, ranking and stats,” [Mr. Zell, chief executive officer and chairman] wrote. “We’re in the business of satisfying customers, and we will respond to what they say they want.”
Who the BLEEP do they think bothers to pick up a newspaper at this point? High school dropouts?!?