Thursday, September 22, 2005

Employment Cutbacks at New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer

Grim news comes from the New York Times and Knight-Ridder in the form of employment cutbacks at their newspapers, a reflection of sliding circulation and advertising. It pleases the corporate interests of Wall Street, but is bad news for America.

The New York Times says it will cut its work force by 500 employees, including 45 editorial employees at the New York Times and 35 at the Times-owned Boston Globe,

Meanwhile, Knight-Ridder says it is cutting 75 editorial employees at the Philadelphia Inquirer and 25 at the Philadelphia Daily News.

What these news companies do can only encourage the pessimists at the Tribune Co. to make further cutbacks at the L.A. Times and other papers they unfortanately obtained in the purchase of Times-Mirror in 2000.

Despite the growth of its national edition in recent years, and attempts steadily made to increase distribution by adding home delivery in more and more cities, the New York Times management now says it expects a slight overall circulation decline in the near future.

This reflects the growth of the Internet and cable TV, which seems to be sapping newspaper readership throughout the country. Wall Street, with its preoccupation with the bottom line rather than quality, encourages such developments.

The trends are only fortified by such columns as the one in the L.A. Times today by new editorial page editor Andres Martinez encouraging the speaking of Spanish and other foreign languages rather than English in the U.S. To the extent English is supplanted by the use of other languages, the mainstream newspapers can only suffer.

All of these developments are discouraging, because newspapers have the detail and sophistication to afford the nation a top quality news product.

Bill Keller, execitove editor of the NYT, said he hopes to accomplish the editorial cutbacks there by attrition and other voluntary means, but we've seen at the L.A. Times that buyouts in the long run can do as much or even more damage than layoffs, because some of the highest quality people take them.

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