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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Perez-Pena’

Micropayments: Pay Walls’ Happy Medium?

cents.jpgWhen entertainment industry trade Variety decided to put its online content behind a pay wall earlier this month, it promised options for how users would go about paying. (Random selection being one of the more out there ideas we’ve heard for pay walls, but hey, everyone is trying something new.)

Other Web sites like those belonging to The Financial Times have embarked on a plan that would eventually allow users to purchase individual articles for a small fee, much like buying a song from iTunes for 99 cents instead of the whole album for $10.

Media analysts don’t necessarily agree that bringing down the price of content (even if it costs customers more money in the long run) will make potential readers take out their wallets. Jay Rosen New York University journalism professor, Bryan Keefer of The Daily Beast and Josh Benton of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab both see the chink in pay walls’ armor as being that the majority of people just won’t pay for content in its current state, period. (Rosen actually predicted the paradoxical idea of paid-for “exclusivity” appealing to link-obsessed readers in a 2005 article for The Huffington Post.) So the people already paying for subscriptions will continue to pay, and the rest won’t be typing in their credit card information, no matter how small the fee is.

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Memo: Times To Layoff 100 Newsroom Staffers

nyt logo.jpgThe announcement that The New York Times is planning to cut 100 newsroom jobs by the end of the year is big news for the media industry, but it couldn’t have been a very easy story for Times reporter Richard Perez-Pena to write.

Perez-Pena reports on the paper’s Media Decoder blog that the Times will cut about 8 percent of its total newsroom jobs by “offering buyouts to union and non-union employees, and resorting to layoffs if it cannot get enough people to leave voluntarily.”

The announcement about the cuts, which had been discussed since September, came to staffers through a memo from executive editor Bill Keller. (Keller had to send a memo because he has the flu. It seems to be going around.) Explains the memo:

“On Thursday, the Company will be sending buyout offers to everyone in the newsroom. Getting a buyout package does NOT mean we want you to leave. It is simply easier to send the envelopes to everyone. If you think a buyout may be right for you, you have up to 45 days to decide whether you will accept it or not.

As before, if we do not reach 100 positions through buyouts, we will
be forced to go to layoffs. I hope that won’t happen, but it might.

Our colleagues in editorial and op-ed, and on the business side, also
face another round of budget cuts.”

This plan is similar to one enacted in 2008, when 100 newsroom positions were eliminated. About that round of cuts, Perez-Pena said only 15 to 20 journalists lost their jobs, “which was the first time in memory that had happened.” And there have been other layoffs:

“The paper has made much deeper reductions in other, non-newsroom departments, where layoffs have occurred several times. But the advertising drop that has pummeled the industry has forced cuts in the news operation, as well. The newsroom already has lowered its budgets for free-lancers and trimmed other expenses, and employees took a 5 percent pay cut for most of this year.”

In his memo, Keller rightly noted that no one is really surprised by this move. “But it is happening sooner than anyone anticipated,” he said. “When we took our 5 percent pay cuts, it was in the hope that this would fend off the need for more staff cuts this year. But I accept that if it’s going to happen, it should be done quickly. We will get through this and move on.”

Keller’s full memo, after the jump

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Why I Followed Andrew Sullivan to the Financial District

It’s sort of fitting that my last FBNY post should be about The Atlantic dinner/conversation I attended earlier this evening, which featured Michael Hirschorn and Andrew Sullivan, since this post was actually my first foray into this whole blogging thing (and remains my top Google result).

The talk — the dinner part included chili, cornbread, and brownies — was billed in the invite as “A Conversation on the Future of Media” and the crowd that packed Justin Smith‘s downtown apartment included a whole lot of very recognizable New York Media names who will no doubt be heavily involved in that very Future. Here’s a non-exhaustive list: Bonnie Fuller, Harry Smith, Richard Perez-Pena, Nick Denton, Tad Friend, Duff McDonald, Gabriel Snyder, Jeff Bercovici, Matt Haber, Danny Shea, Brian Stelter, Rachel Sklar, Jon Fine, Dylan Stableford, Laurel Touby, James Bennett…and also, strangely(?), (the very tall) Sigourney Weaver.

Alas, neither Sullivan nor Hirschorn appeared to have any definite ideas about what ‘Media’ might look in the future other than that it would probably be very different from what we currently have, but also that the New York Times is in a lot of trouble. For those of you keeping score Andrew Sullivan still reads the dead tree edition of the Times every morning and does not Twitter. @LaurelTouby, @BrianStelter, and @RachelSklar, however, all have nice tweets from the party. Now(!), before I sign off for good here’s a couple of other interesting things I read today:

NYT Co. Threatens to Close Down The Boston Globe

BostonGlobe_logo.gifThe New York Times Co. isn’t fooling around with these cutbacks! Richard Perez-Pena is reporting in today’s NYT that the company is looking into closing(not selling, but closing) The Boston Globe “unless labor unions agree to concessions like pay cuts and the cessation of pension contributions, according to a person briefed on the talks.” That is quite the bargaining tactic.

The company is looking for $20 million in savings from The Globe, which has already gone through several rounds of deep cost-cutting and staff reductions.
*
The company paid $1.1 billion for The Globe in 1993, the highest price ever paid for a single American newspaper, and it was highly profitable through that decade. But in recent years, the erosion of advertising and newspaper circulation has been more severe in the Boston area than in most of the country.

No-Newspaper Cities by 2010?

r-POSTCARDS-huge.jpgDoes the idea of a no-newspaper town scare you? According to the Times‘s Richard Perez-Pena this might be where we are heading. And shortly! (We snagged this impressive graphic from the HuffPo media page, by the way).

In 2009 and 2010, all the two-newspaper markets will become one-newspaper markets, and you will start to see one-newspaper markets become no-newspaper markets.

But does it matter? News reporting and newspapers are two different things. Of course, Perez-Pena points to the problem of which we are all painfully (and endlessly) aware, namely: “No one yet has unlocked the puzzle of supporting a large newsroom purely on digital revenue, a fact that may presage an era of news organizations that are smaller, weaker and less able to fulfill their traditional function as the nation’s watchdog.”

Of course, one has to imagine in this age of endless innovation and mass news consumption, this is probably a problem that will be shortly solved. And that the disappearance of actual newspapers won’t necessarily presage then end of “civil society” as Buzz Woolley seems to predict. What say you readers? Leaving aside the fact that until the subways get wired newspapers in this town probably have a fighting chance, what if New York was a no newspaper town by 2010? Would you care?

Does the idea of NYC being a no-newspaper town by 2010 bother you?
( polls)

Bankrupt Round-Up

bankrupt.jpg

  • Kevin Roderick is reporting that the Tribune Company is freezing pending payments to freelancers.
  • NewsBlues ran a chilling story about all the recent layoffs:

    Tribune also says severance payments to recently laid-off employees, deferred compensation, and other payments to former workers have been discontinued. Essentially, those former employees become creditors who will have to get in line in bankruptcy court.

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