Study: shrinking newsrooms hurting papers’ quality
By JEREMY HERRON
The Associated Press
Monday, July 21, 2008; 12:30 AM
NEW YORK — The many and deepening cuts at newspapers across the country are starting to take a toll on their content, according to a study being released Monday.
The challenge newspapers must meet immediately is to find more revenue on the Internet, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s study, called “The Changing Newsroom: What is Being Gained and What is Being Lost in America’s Daily Newspapers.”
Newspaper managers need to “find a way to monetize the rapid growth of Web readership before newsroom staff cuts so weaken newspapers that their competitive advantage disappears.”
Stories are shorter overall, the study found, and staff coverage tends to focus on local and community news.
“America’s newspapers are narrowing their reach and their ambitions and becoming niche reads,” the study said.
Even when foreign and national news makes it into the papers, it is being relegated to less prominent pages.
“To make the front page, it has to be a significant development or a story that we can see through Florida eyes,” said Sharon Rosenhause, managing editor of the Fort Lauderdale-based South Florida Sun-Sentinel and a longtime newspaper executive.
Florida has eyes? Who knew?
The Sentinel is obviously a leader in what makes a cutting-edge newspaper, with front-page features like Hot Moms, Battle Scars and Real Estate. Sharon–the self described longtime newspaper executive, follows on with what she calls “Other Top News,” featuring Deputy hurt as cruiser rear-ended in Cooper City.
Stop the presses!
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has contrived to sell itself for five-thousand million dollars. Hmmm . . .
The results (of the survey) show that papers carry fewer stories on foreign and national news and devote less space to business, science and arts reporting, and many have reduced the crossword puzzle and eliminated television and stock listings.
Well, there you have it. Reducing the crossword, carrying the rear-ending of a squad car as ‘more top news.’ Is it any wonder that Barack Obama is in Afghanistan–far from (and unknown to) Florida eyes and Woodward-Bernstein style investigative journalism fails to dog (or even notice) the failings of our current president?
Still, 56 percent of the editors surveyed said their news product is better than it was three years ago because coverage is more targeted.
Which, I guess, says more about the current state of newspaper editing than they would actually care to reveal.