Let me get this straight.
Newspapers are in the business of gathering news and information in order to attract readers, and then they use those readers to attract advertisers wanting to reach the readers.
In order to have news and information, newspapers employ reporters.
As readers turn to other sources for national and international news (TV, cable, radio, internet), newspapers beef up their local reporting and investigative staffing, to attract more readers looking for information on what's happening closer to home.
Oops, maybe I'm wrong on that last point. I guess I was thinking of what might be a sensible response to the financial difficulties many newspapers are facing. But instead, papers are laying off the source of the very thing that makes them of value to readers... and to advertisers. Management at U.S. newspapers laid off 1,300 newsroom employees last year, according to the annual census by the American Society of News Editors.
That's better than the 2,600 newsroom jobs that were shed the year before, but still... how can newspapers report the news if they have no reporters and editors? Newsroom jobs have fallen by 35 percent from their all-time high of nearly 57,000 in 1989, currently standing at 36,700.
I've written about this before, citing as an example Gannett's Journal News, which serves the northern suburbs of New York. The paper used to have a few newsrooms throughout the area, including in Westchester's largest cities of Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Yonkers and New Rochelle. Then came consolidation, shutting down the local bureaus and cutting reporters. Where they used to have reporters in each bureau covering local government, schools and the police beat, there are now a few reporters who are responsible for covering those beats for all the communities in Westchester, as well as the neighboring counties.
This scenario has been repeated many times over recent years throughout the country. The result -- important local stories just don't get covered, making the paper less relevant to readers and, with lower circulation, less attractive to advertisers.
So the genius bean-counters think they're helping fix the bottom line, when what they're actually doing is hastening their own demise. It's a sad situation and we are all the worse off because of it. An uninformed public risks being at the mercy of government and businesses who do what they want since they operate in the dark with no public oversight.