The New York Times indicated today that it’s getting close to a round of forced layoffs of its journalists.
The newsroom-wide email sent Thursday morning, obtained by Mother Jones, details responses to employee questions about a scheduled buyout program from Janet Elder, a deputy executive editor at the company. The email states that, “the most frequently asked question is about scale and whether or not there will be enough buyouts to avoid layoffs. Given that the buyout window is still open, it’s hard to have an absolute answer to that question just yet. Early efforts to handicap the outcome regrettably point to having to do some layoffs.”
The real question here is this: if the New York Times can’t sustain its print ad revenue, what hope is there for smaller newspapers? Will local connections and news be enough to slow that inevitable demise?
Rather than forge a new direction with digital media, newspapers clung to an identity rooted firmly in the 1940s for far too long. By the time they did begin to embrace and develop online versions, they were already being lapped by many blogs. Many papers (including the Times) created online offerings that looked like the print version. These were generally ridiculous to look at and cumbersome to navigate, but they were determined to keep a foot cemented somewhere in the past.
In the Obama era, print journalism began digging its own grave at a faster pace by abandoning what few principles were left and becoming the PR arm of Team Lightbringer.
It is difficult to visualize the near future for newspapers. Will the people who have a fetish for feeling what they’re reading pay a premium to keep print in business? For the first time in years and in the midst of a moment of nostalgia, I purchased the Sunday Los Angeles Times last week. The entire paper was about as big as the classified section alone when I last subscribed to it about a dozen years ago. I ended up going online for more details about the two articles that interested me the most. Reading the sports section and seeing news that had been in front of me in real time the day before felt like taking a trip in a time machine.
Even though I am very much thrilled with the digital media era (I’m on my fourth Kindle), I will admit that I miss the Sunday paper reading ritual from days gone by.
At least I did until I got NFL Redzone.