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Wuhan Coronavirus could deliver coup de grâce for local and digital media

Wuhan Coronavirus could deliver coup de grâce for local and digital media

News companies have either laid off, furloughed, or reduced the pay of over 28,000 worker, as ad revenue collapses.

Life as we know it will likely change once the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic ends. Traditional media has been in trouble for a while, but the pandemic might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Professor Jacobson highlighted the troubles barreling towards the media a few weeks ago. But as he said, the ones that would likely suffer the most are local media outlets, not the ones in the despised mainstream media.

Now those troubles have hit the media.

People snark at trickle-down economics, making it seem like it’s just a fantasy drawn up by conservatives.

Want proof? Look at most local media outlets.

People have turned to the news more than ever since the beginning of the pandemic. But it’s not viewership or subscriptions that pay the bills.

The media outlets get their profits from advertisements.

Unfortunately, many businesses have shut down due to the pandemic, so the owners do not have money to pay for advertisements:

News companies have either laid off, furloughed, or reduced the pay of over 28,000 workers. The New York Times noted the pandemic caused “weeklies like Seven Days in Burlington, VT., and Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain,” to shutdown:

Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, The Detroit Free Press and more than 250 other daily newspapers, has ordered the majority of its 24,000 employees to take five days off per month without pay in April, May and June, staff memos revealed, and executives will take a 25 percent pay cut. Paul Bascobert, the chief executive, said he would not take his salary until the crisis was over. The NewsGuild, which represents journalists at several Gannett papers, criticized the plan. “Our nation simply cannot afford to furlough or lay off journalists and other news industry employees in this time of crisis,” said the union’s president, Jon Schleuss.

BuzzFeed “cut salaries in April and May for all U.S. employees making more than $40,000,” while those at the top of the food chain will see their salaries reduced by 25 percent.

Then there’s Lee Enterprises and McClatchy:

With more than 70 papers, including The Buffalo News and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, this national chain has instituted pay cuts and furloughs for its employees, according to a staff memo from Kevin Mowbray, the chief executive. Executives have taken a 20 percent pay cut. Lee Enterprises got bigger in January, when it bought 31 newspapers for $140 million from Berkshire Hathaway, whose chief executive, Warren Buffett, called the newspaper business “toast” last year.

In February, before coronavirus cases rose sharply in the United States, McClatchy, whose dailies include The Kansas City Star, The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, filed for bankruptcy. On Thursday, the chief executive Craig Forman said the decline in ads required a “leave of absence” for about 120 non-newsroom employees — or less than five percent of the work force, according to a spokeswoman. In addition, the company laid off four executives, and Mr. Forman will take a 50 percent pay cut.

Tribune Publishing hits me hard since I’m from Chicago and still subscribe to The Chicago Tribune:

The publicly traded company behind The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and The New York Daily News said on Thursday that it would permanently cut the salaries of those making more than $67,000 by 2 percent to 10 percent. The company will also offer an undisclosed number of buyouts, and employees have until April 17 to decide. The Tribune Publishing chief executive Terry Jimenez said he would not take his salary for two weeks. Other executives will also take pay cuts. Tribune Publishing, whose largest stakeholder is Alden Global Capital, did not reply to a request for comment.

Newspapers have received some life support from online subscriptions.

I see people on social media encourage others to subscribe to local newspapers or wherever they work.

The thing is, no one should pay for a product if they do not want it or do not view it as a valuable asset. Don’t buy a subscription just because. Put out a decent product, and people will eat it up.

This sucks. But we’ve seen print die little by little for a long time. Egon Spangler foreshadowed it in Ghostbusters when he said, “Print is dead.”

Okay, I know that is a movie, but it’s still weird.

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Never fear, Congress will bail them out.

The Baltimore Sun should permanently lay off their whole staff as the Sun is about as non-essential as a business can possibly be. I don’t have a bird anymore and even my rabbit won’t pee on it.

“Put out a decent product and people will eat it up.”

Way back in the days when I worked at a newspaper, the bosses used to say that the paper was losing subscribers because people just didn’t appreciate good journalism.

There was no arguing with them. It was unshakable dogma that the product was spectacularly good, people just didn’t understand it.

I don’t work there anymore and I don’t subscribe either.

    IneedAhaircut in reply to irv. | April 13, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Truth is, most consumers don’t want to get news traditional print media anymore. It’s all TV and internet delivery, and generally in much smaller bite sized pieces. Print is a slow, hugely wasteful and inefficient model. Just like the horse and buggy disappeared a century ago, print media will also disappear.

      Firewatch in reply to IneedAhaircut. | April 13, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      The local rag has little local news and is mostly reprints of national news from the usual propagandists.

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Firewatch. | April 13, 2020 at 2:47 pm

        Spot on.

        The local Rags are completely worthless – owned by multi-national conglomerate leftist orgs.

        While they still put out their teenie Pages they might have some use for bird cage liners and toilet paper in a pinch.

      Katy L. Stamper in reply to IneedAhaircut. | April 13, 2020 at 1:26 pm

      Print news has a longer shelf life in the sense that if you want that ad, you set the paper aside and it’s physically in a spot, so that when you are ready to make that call, it’s there.

      The internet isn’t like that. I might see something interesting but sometimes I can never find that page again.

      Also, a paper’s ads are generally very local. So you don’t wonder when you’re looking at an ad in it whether the advertiser is local or not.

      They also have real relationships with the people in the news, which many internet sites don’t have.

      It’s a very different product. It could be a GREAT product, but as the poster wrote, the newsroom believes its own P.R. Too bad for them.

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Katy L. Stamper. | April 13, 2020 at 2:48 pm

        On the internet all you have to do is bookmark the web page and you can even go ahead and look up the specific company’s web page reviews ratings Etc and bookmark those as well. Even email all of that to yourself if you’re afraid you’ll get busy and forget it later.

        If I see something I might want to investigate further at a later date, I clip-out/screen-cap it and put the image in a folder marked “InterestingAds” on my desktop. Periodically, I review and purge unnecessary items in that folder.

Comanche Voter | April 13, 2020 at 11:25 am

Congress will bail the newspapers out. Then the Los Angeles Times will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democrat party. Its status will change from de facto to de jure.

The LA Times ceased being a serious newspaper shortly after George Bush defeated Al Gore. As far as the nation needing journalists–that’s probably correct. But the “journolists” (spelling intentional) ceased being news gatherers and reporters and became op ed writers. We need reporters, although none are around. We don’t need legions of in house op ed writers and Uniparty flacks.

    How would you tell the difference?

      ss396 in reply to rdm. | April 14, 2020 at 11:23 am

      It’s easy: the article might recount a few facts, but as soon as you see the words ‘could’ or ‘might’ or ‘some people’ or ‘studies show’ then the article has now turned to opinion. From there on they are pushing a viewpoint, an opinion; they never examine ‘what if it doesn’t happen?’

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Comanche Voter. | April 13, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    They became terrorist attackers.

amatuerwrangler | April 13, 2020 at 11:30 am

These papers made the decision to back the socialists, this being the most recent example of their fueling hysteria about something, and it has come back to bite them.

Bad decisions yield bad outcomes.

I would be more than happy, thrilled even, to subscribe to and support a regional or statewide paper that reported the local news.

Unfortunately, my only option is a Gannett owned propaganda rag.

“The thing is, no one should pay for a product if they do not want it or do not view it as a valuable asset. Don’t buy a subscription just because. Put out a decent product, and people will eat it up.”

Exactly. I was a loyal subscriber to the local paper for decades until the biased coverage became so blatant I couldn’t stand it any more. If they’d have put out a decent product that I wanted to read, I’d have never cancelled my subscription so many years ago.

Fat chance of me starting it back up to save an industry that I despise.

Must be nice to be able to forego the majority, even entirety, of one’s salary for an extended period- wonder how those expense accounts will look during that time too…

There IS a market for journalism. But not for brazen, overt and obnoxious propaganda. They are vanishing despite subsidies by the government and Masters of the Universe because no one likes to be lectured by smug, lying liars.

I haven’t subscribed to a newspaper in almost 20 years and cut the cable maybe 12-15 years ago. It is why I am better informed these days and managed to maintain my sanity.

My bother dropped his subscription to his local paper because it had become nothing but a DNC PR firm. He kept getting the paper delivered so called again and made sure they understood he had canceled. The paper kept coming in spite of more phone calls. It continued for over 6 months until he got a call from them telling him they would cancel his subscription if he didn’t pay the arrears. Of course, he didn’t pay and the papers kept coming.
I recently read that all the papers do this now so they can show larger circulation numbers.

Hotep.Maqqebet | April 13, 2020 at 11:52 am


I dropped my subscription to the WSJ because it became a women’s lifestyle paper. The editorial page followed.

IneedAhaircut | April 13, 2020 at 12:05 pm

I wonder if Jim Acosta and all his buddies at CNN would be as gung-ho to extend the enforced isolation into infinity if they had to shut down CNN and all go home without a paycheck.

Just imagine Jim home alone with nobody to talk to except his Dear Diary…

Silver linings…

oh well, they can always learn to code.

no great loss.

Question: How many people automatically think of their local newspaper as being a good go-to source for local news on a daily basis?

I know in the DC area most people don’t think of the Washington Post that way and haven’t for years.

Local journalism costs money. The less of it you have as you try to cut costs the more people quit subscribing, and it’s a vicious cycle. Add to that the hyper-local websites that are either blogs funded by donations or news sites that do a combination of aggregating and original reporting and pay their reporters not a whole lot (but hey, they’re happy they have a job), and people are going to keep finding their local news elsewhere.

BierceAmbrose | April 13, 2020 at 12:54 pm

They’re doing it wrong.

With bad analysis, questionable “facts” and spun delivery coming from The Authoritative Sources, there’s plenty demand for actual contentful content. Add it that with this thing called The InterWebz, there’s near instant, near universal reach for anything good.

Local reporting that says something should have a rock-solid local audience, and if they figure out anything universal, an immediate, global one. Local media is collapsing because they’re media — nobody needs a locally produced and branded version of McDonalds Toadburgers.

(Don not get me started on targeted ad-based “monetization.”

No, you do not need to collect every demo tibdib — demobit? — of every “visitor” to up the miniscule price of targeted ads. *People who come to a venue with a reputation, POV, and content type are pre-selected to be interested in … that.* You know what to offer them for sale: the same thing that brought them in the first plaqce.

Bands selling their merch at a concert *aren’t* exploiting the musical relationship with fans. They’re offering more of the same to people who want that.

The problem is, you have to offer something valuable and distinctive — beyond most of the mass media hacks, producedrs, distribution and moguls to comprehend.)

Advance Media ( Newhouse Family) just finished busting up the union in Cleveland. They kept the union people onthe print edition and the online version was non union. Over the years they cut the union staff and this past week laid off moreand reassigned the remaining ones ( most of whom quit). The lines were not blurred as union and non union content was used with print or online plus they cut the union out of the actual printing process that was cut back from daily delivery to four times a week.
The vulture capitalists should get nothing

“News”papers have killed themselves by aligning themselves with the swamp/left/islamic axis of fascism and treason and printing their propaganda, instead of acting as bulwarks against tyranny.

Notice the Epoch Times is flourishing.

The journalist cheered on the destruction of the American economy. Their disassociation from the economics of running a media business is breathtaking. Each of these fools from the reporter to the editor to the publisher somehow think they are working for PBS and not in a business.

    MajorWood in reply to puhiawa. | April 14, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    The people who are most against manufacturing are those whose jobs are most removed from manufacturing. But it catches up with them down the road. Yeah, Ohio is a much cleaner state now, but no one has any money to enjoy it. I guess EPA is Entitlement Prevention Austerity now.

In the race for most media members with the virus, George S. at ABC now has it. Guess he didn’t practice proper social distancing.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to buck61. | April 13, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Is that how he caught as the French would say Symptome Trump Derangement (STD)?

Oh, and the sports section is a big factor. Before if you wanted scores and stats the sports section was the place to go. Now you can get stats and results online during and after a game ends, whether it’s taking place where you live or on the other side of the planet. Plus with earlier print deadlines, you can’t even guarantee your local team’s final results get printed in the paper the next day, even if the game was played in the same time zone.

    buck61 in reply to p. | April 13, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    That is happening more and more on the high school level as well. They need to go completely local and stay local, find a specialty and be the best at it.

The media – even local weeklies – tend to do everything in their power to hack off customers.

Many businesses will have new owners in a year.

Fake News / MrE (TTTO: Hey Jude / Beatles)

Fake, News, you’re just so sad
Spouting “bad news” fast and faster
Dissembling and spinning ‘til it’s all dark
Like dogs you bark for your wicked master

Fake, News, don’t be so lame
You are paid to report with candor
But clearly you’ve got it into your heads
It must be said that your “news” is slander

So many times I feel abused
Fake, News, you lose
Don’t make it all up for your share holders
You know darn well that it’s untrue
Your only proof
Are disgruntled deep state “O” hold overs

Blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah

Fake, News, please treat me kind
You’ve been blinded by propaganda
Remember good things that we have done
Don’t have it spun to please your task masters

So check it out and lose the spin
Fake, News, we win
When you give us something good we can cheer for
And don’t you know that it’s the truth
Fake, News, just truth
The viewers you’ve hemorrhaged once tuned in for

Blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah

Fake, News, don’t be so lame
You are paid to report with candor
But clearly you’ve got it into your heads
It must be said that your “news” is slander
Slander slander slander slander slander OW!

Blah, blah-blah blah-blah blah-blah, blah-blah blah-blah,
Fake, News (repeat and fade)

stevewhitemd | April 13, 2020 at 1:59 pm

I live in the Chicago area. I’ve been a Tribune reader since the 1970s when it was the Colonel’s newspaper (Colonel McCormick, the publisher). Back then it was reasonable, sensible, mainstream conservative, some right of center but (usually) not rabid. The older Tribune from the 1940s and 50s, of course, was rabid.

Now it’s rabid in the other direction. The only right of center columnist is John Kass who is a treasure. The rest of them are J-school grads of the same type that infest the NYT and WaPo. It’s all Trump slamming all the time, all about the need for socialism covertly or increasingly overtly. They’re as guilty as the rest of the media on Wuhan virus reportage. They wring their hands about all the state and local corruption and then endorse every Democrat in the elections.

I’d love to dump them; my lovely bride of 37 years insists on having a Sunday newspaper (though the Sunday Tribune these days wouldn’t stun a spider).

But I’m sure not going to miss the Tribune company if it folds.

    JimWoo in reply to stevewhitemd. | April 13, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    The Chicago Tribune has gone down the tubes. Except for Kass the whole paper is infected with a serious case of TDS. I think when hyper liberal editor a-hole Chapman arrived on the scene the paper started to go to crap. Cancelled my subscription 20 yrs ago.

    Will be celebrating when it goes belly up.

    JimWoo in reply to stevewhitemd. | April 13, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    I worked in a racially mixed union shop for nearly 30 years. During this time the Tribune changed from a race neutral paper to a vehicle for rich white limousine liberals to demonstrate their racial social justice cred by hiring leftist columnists. They pandered to the African American community by hiring AA columnists who were ultra race baiting leftists. And the irony is that in my years working with a lot of black Americans; not ONE time did I see a black coworker with a Tribune. They universally bought the Sun Times instead.
    I always found it puzzling that Tribune would forsake and alienate their rock solid conservative subscribers to kowtow to a community that had no interest in purchasing their product.

What you are missing is the two biggest Ad distribution companies are Facebook and Google, and most of the rest are loss leaders (YouTube bleeds money, one reason they are demonitizing and removing things).

How is Google AdSense doing?

Meanwhile Tim Pool, Bannon’s War Room: Pandemic, and other sources like here are still up.

The problem with clickbait journalism is when the clicks don’t result in cash. You can write a provocative (often wrong) headline to get clicks. But no ads, no cash.

“Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, The Detroit Free Press and more than 250 other daily newspapers, has ordered the majority of its 24,000 employees to take five days off per month without pay in April, May and June, staff memos revealed, and executives will take a 25 percent pay cut.”

Gannett has been a survivor because it’s better at cutting costs than its competitors. They’ve had to because few advertisers want to pay $$$$ for print ads anymore, and there’s too much competition for digital ads to maintain high prices fir them. Then again, perhaps if they produced a better product then subscribers would be willing to pick up more of the tab, and they’d be less dependant on advertising?

Gannett has cut content until there’s practically none left. Yet the problem isn’t just that there’s not much left, but that what is left is execrable. Somehow it seems that they’ve retained their most idealogically committed “journalists” even as they’ve cut the somewhat-better ones, left their editorial pages to be run by one-note Party hacks, and left editors in place who seem to encourage assigning political stories to those very “reporters” who are the most committed to advocacies related to these stories.

IF Gannett at least attempted to produce a quality product with the limited resources left to it I might feel bad about what’s continuing to happen to it, but, as it is I just can’t. Perhaps when they die something better will replace them.

Way too many people being laid for the Coding Colleges. They should be looking at things like car wash attendant, house cleaning services, dog walking etc.
While they’d still be underqualified the on the job experience would be well worth the investment of a pooper scooper.

If they printed with disinfectant instead of ink they might get their market back.

SeekingRationalThought | April 13, 2020 at 11:35 pm

I agree that no one should subscribe to a local paper unless it provides quality coverage. My town, St. Louis, suffers from the Post-Dispatch, a horrible paper with bad writing, bad coverage and horrible bias. I stopped subscribing decades ago, before the internet competition, because the Post-Dispatch was such a horrible piece of journalistic filth. And its only gotten worse. I would subscribe to a local paper, even one with editorials I disagreed with, if it has broad, fair and unbiased local new coverage. Unfortunately, the writers, editors and managers at the Post-Dispatch can’t wrap their twisted little minds around those words. They make Beavis and Butthead on DNCNBC look smart.

MattLauersNob | April 13, 2020 at 11:48 pm

As the old saying goes, get woke go broke.

I refuse to pay a penny to any news source that hates me for my political views. Eff the lot of ’em.

Boo hoo, and a crocodile tear.

Well, the corner box that used to hold a weekly Gazette type rag is now completely gone. I would like to believe that it was my terse and thoughtful memes that caused its demise, but I guess “follow the money” is equally good.