It's not even possible to get mad at the Baltimore Sun now. The Baltimore Sun is a nursing home where newspapering goes to die, or to sink into terminal urine-soaked frailty and confusion. Yesterday it announced it had received the commitment papers for City Paper, the city's alternative weekly, b. 1977 – d. TK But Soon.
The rumors appear to be true: Newsweek will amputate up to one million copies from its 2.6 million circulation, according to Wall Street Journal sources, and no fewer than 500,000. There will be an unknown number of layoffs, announced Thursday, to be achieved through voluntary buyouts like the 111 from last spring. But the biggest change at the 73-year-old magazine: It's going to become a whole lot more like Washington Post Co. sibling Slate, with contrarian, gimmicky or otherwise grabby headlines that wouldn't be out of place on Digg.
Oh, it's a terrible time to own a magazine. Advertising is falling and expected to plummet further. Everyone's laying people off, going online only or outright shutting down. But every editor worth his salt knows how to put a contrarian, positive spin on a dire situation. Time Inc. may be in the process of laying off 600 people, but, hey, the magazine group's executive vice president told Peter Kafka the layoffs are "pretty much" done, and if you're still employed with the company you probably won't get laid off between now and New Year's. Why, that's positively delightful! And dig the way Newsweek tried to positively spin a purported 1 million-copy-cut in its rate base:
Sam Zell's Tribune Company is exploring a bankruptcy filing, the Wall Street Journal and Times are reporting. Profits have fallen faster than the media conglomerate can sell off assets, leaving the company in likely violation of debt covenants and scrounging to pay nearly $1 billion in interest. Of course, nearly two-thirds of the company's $12 billion debt comes from Zell's leveraged buyout of the Tribune last December. The cranky old real estate mogul is like a guy who bought his house with a subprime mortgage: He thought he could refinance before interest rates kicked in, but now the price of his home is plummeting and he's getting desperate.
Web publishing zealot Jeff Jarvis like to yell Darwinian slogans at print journalists . "There is no divine right for newsroom jobs," he wrote earlier this month. "Nor is printing and trucking an eternal verity of the field." It was surprising, then, to hear the media futurist's complaint about today's cover story on him in the Observer: The paper didn't promote his new dead-trees book! And after he gave the reporter so much of his precious time:
Gina Duclayan's Facebook album of behind-the-scenes Spy magazine staff photos shows the soft, human side of the carefully-calibrated snark book of the late 1980s and early 1990s. As such it's both a supplement and antidote to "Spy: The Funny Years," 2006's "lush, coffee-table format book" launched at an insidery party that reminded everyone how important (and establishment) the magazine's staff had since become. Somehow seeing the power clique in dorky 1980s duds and chairless apartments is much more comforting. At left, Kurt Andersen, a very young Daniel Radosh and Duclayan (clockwise from left). One more shot after the jump.
Amid all the hair-pulling over magazine and newspaper layoffs, Rupert Murdoch's speech broadcast in Australia Sunday sounds bracing: "Too many journalists — ...misguided cynics who are too busy writing their own obituary to be excited by the opportunity... — seem to take a perverse pleasure in ruminating on their pending demise," he said. "I believe that newspapers will reach new heights." But the News Corporation chairman's faith in the power of quality journalism and newspaper websites sounds an awful lot like McClatchy chief Gary Pruitt's iconoclastic (and now-ironic) defense of the industry back in 2006, in the Wall Street Journal:
Britain's Guardian profiled Jared Kushner, and while the Observer owner makes some positive noises about his company, the salient facts are as follows: After two years and a purported 40 percent revenue increase, the paper is still losing about $2 million per year. Kushner said he is " definitely scared about newspapers" and compared the industry to "a falling knife." And despite having Ivanka Trump on his arm, Kushner was recently turned away from fading nightclub Bungalow 8:
Steven A. Smith was considered to be one of the most innovative newspaper editors in the country, Webcasting his morning news meetings, building a radio sound studio and shifting staff and focus to the online edition of his paper, the Spokane, Washington Spokesman-Review. So of course the self-destructing newspaper industry had to go and ruin that, by asking Smith to fire most new online people less than a year after he hacked away 25 percent of the overall staff. Smith naturally resigned, an event that was covered by NPR. Some old newspaper hands are grumbling that Smith should have toughed it out, but up-and-coming print journalists will be looking at his decision and reaching the opposite conclusion: If this guy, of all people, can't deliver newspapers safely to the future, it's probably time to leave. (Photo via NPR)