I am sure I am not the only one who was stunned by what happened today at The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune.
Yes, I know that the digital transformation is upon us, and I know that consumption of digital information continues to grow (even if the hoped-for increase in digital advertising has somehow not accompanied it).
But I also know that the value of newspapers is the content they produce, and if the very people who create that content are dismissed, then what kind of value proposition is left?
No matter how you want to sugarcoat it, Advance Publications decimated The Times-Picayune’s newsroom today. Almost 50 percent of the 169-person staff was notified that their employment would end Sept. 30.
Nola Media Group, the entity that will oversee the retooled Times-Pic, will refill some of those 84 slots, but how many, and whether those jobs will include editorial positions, is unknown.
The news out of Advance’s Alabama properties, meantime, is no better, with The Birmingham News’ editorial department slashed by almost 60 percent. Across The News, The Huntsville Times and Press-Register in Mobile, some 400 positions will be eliminated, encompassing reporters, editors, production workers and advertising personnel.
I’ve commented many times about the danger publishers risk by cutting reporters and editors at a time when consumers want more, and not less, professionally written, edited and curated information and content.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming distressingly clear the industry’s digital future — at least as it’s currently funded — threatens to provide readers with less. Much, much less.