Thursday, July 03, 2008

Market Forces at Work at the LA Times 
The Los Angeles Times is the latest newspaper to undergo a round of layoffs.

I've been there. I was one of the last six people standing after a round of layoffs that displaced more than 50 people at Mutual Funds Magazine between 2000 and late 2002. It's stressful, sure. But most of us came through it ok, and we even have better hours (except for Barbara, who went to work at Time Magazine)

Nevertheless, reporters are entitled to do some bitching at the mismanagement of their newspaper. And it's not entirely because their liberal paper has cost them a lot of subscribers. Honestly, I don't think that's a huge problem for the Times. (You can fix that by starting up a more conservative paper and working out cross-selling deals for advertising to both populations).

No. What really led to the layoffs at the LA Times is information like this:

the average Los Angeles Times journalist produced “51 pages” per year, while the average journalist in Baltimore or at the company’s Hartford Courant produced “300 pages” per year.

51 pages a year? For a full-time reporter who complains about his insane hours?

That's not very impressive.

I know reporters do a lot more than just crank out copy. Enterprise stories and deep investigative pieces will drive down your page per reporter rate, because these stories take so long to put together, research, and report. (On the other hand, the alt weeklies do it all the time!)

You also have to consider that the LA Times will keep a reporter in quiet places that don't see a lot of coverage. Like Iraq for example.

Splash, out


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