Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What the Newsroom Fat Layer looks like (and what to do about it)


Alan D. Mutter has written about what many seasoned journalists would call the 'touchy' issue of "How many people have to read a story before it goes in the paper?". His article comes in response to the recent news about the New York Times planning to lay off 100 people from the editorial pool.

It is more than a quality issue. It is a focus issue.

Let's have a look at my brief question list:

1. Do you need more people to cover Britney Spears, the G8 summit, Davos meet, Sports Event?

An enlightened mind said this, pardon me for not remembering who:

"The real problem for news is not that there are too many reporters, but that there are too many reporters in the wrong places."

2. Do you need more people to cover Gadgetporn, something that pays the bills for many top blogs?
Instead, you can easily rewrite using the data from the RSS feeds.

3. Finally, do you need more people to cover issues that readers care about?
Editors may say that people care about whether Britney gets custody to her kids but then you can easily get the story from the Wires instead of putting a dedicated reporter.

Jeff Jarvis has posted results about a survey where he asks readers about newspaper jobs and sections they would cut off. Early results have come in and people have indicated what section/job they would cut:

Financial tables 43.06%
Sports section 21.65%
Sports columnists 8.00%
Entertainment section 3.76%
Movie critic 3.76%
Business section 2.59%
Syndicated features 2.59%
TV critic 2.59%
Music critic 1.88%
Book critic 1.65%
Comics 1.65%
Foreign bureaus 1.65%
Lifestyle section 1.41%
Washington bureau 1.18%
Editorial columnists 0.71%
Copy editors 0.47%
Online site 0.47%
Top editors 0.47%
Editorial page 0.24%
Photographers 0.24%
What this survey tells you is that there are certain things other people are covering better than you and you are probably better off using data from Wire services and RSS feeds instead, saving costs in the process.

Locking at the graphic above and the survey results, make your own judgments.

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