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Former LA Times Columnist Mark Heisler on the High Price of Cost Cutting

In a column for TruthDig, veteran sportswriter Mark Heisler, laid off last month from the LA Times, speaks plainly about the troubles facing the newspaper industry. Of particular interest, when print struggles to maintain relevance in the Internet age, is how management’s efforts to save money came at the cost of real reporting:

Newspapers entered the computer age in the ’70s and ’80s with promises of later deadlines that would give us more time to report, think through and write our stories.

Instead, the extra time went to the production side to cut costs. Our deadlines—particularly merciless for our main run at 10:30 p.m., with the average baseball game scheduled to started at 7:30, getting under way at 7:40 and ending around 10:45—stayed where they were, or were even moved earlier. One memorable Saturday last fall, the deadline was moved up to 9:30 p.m., too early to get the score of that night’s USC-Stanford game, one of our lead stories, into the newspaper.

You may ask, how can you write a gamer before it ends, to say nothing of a column, which is supposed to be more than routine play-by-play?

Good question. Even the best journalists can’t predict the future. The financial savings afforded by earlier deadlines may look good on a spread sheet, but wreaks havoc on a paper’s content.

Via LA Observed.

 

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