Claremont Insider: Tough Times

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Tough Times

More thoughts on print media following our post from last Friday:

Picking up today's Sunday LA Times we couldn't help but notice that the paper seemed decidedly thinner. The trimming is apparently one side-effect of the recent exodus of staff members, some by choice; some, like 35-year Times veteran Al Martinez, by layoffs.

Yesterday's Times' business section carried an article by James Rainey that tallied the departures. It read like an obituary. The cutbacks represent an attempt pump up the paper's bottom line in response to declining ad revenue and declining circulation.

Any organization can stand to become more efficient, but one wonders at what point does fat trimming start to cut into meat? The latest cutbacks included six Pulitzer Prize winners, and the effects of such losses on the newspaper's quality have to be felt eventually. It's a lot like a game of Jenga, where a tower of small wood blocks is first built, then players remove the blocks one at a time until it falls.

If current trends aren't reversed, one can imagine a similar thing happening at the Times and other papers. Collapse will happen, as Hemingway once wrote, gradually, then suddenly.