Blogs are fine, but newspapers are better
This is from Mark Potts' blog, Recovering Journalist. He's been tracking the decline of American daily newspapers. He's compiled a database of all the job cuts and setbacks in the industry for the past couple of years. While this looks scary -- really, really scary -- we should keep in mind that this is part of a shedding of old ways and embracing of new (with notable expectations and obvious different rates of speed). That shedding, of course, is painful -- really, really painful -- but, hey, there's no putting the 21st century toothpaste back into 20th century tube.
What I think we should be worried about is the quality of discussion about arts and culture. If newspaper don't it, who will? Blogs are fine, but they are only one way of covering the arts. Nothing can replace the dedicated, professional, and relatively well-resourced engagement of the arts by a daily newspaper (even The Post and Courier's theater reviews, however small and lacking of substance they may be at times, are still valuable in that they are present and not absent from the newspaper's pages)
* More than 6,300 employees at the 100 largest newspapers have lost jobs through buyouts or layoffs in the past year.
* More than half of those cutbacks have come since the beginning of June.
* Nearly two-thirds of the top 100 papers have cut staff in the past year, including all but four of the top 34 (the two New York City tabloids, the Indianapolis Star and the Cleveland Plain Dealer are the exceptions-and Plain Dealer management has threatened imminent cuts).
* Even papers that haven't made recent cuts have sliced staff in the past couple of years-in all, three-quarters of the Top 100 have eliminated jobs in the past two years or so.
* Twenty-eight of the Top 100 have cut more than 100 jobs in the past year. Seven have cut more than 200 jobs-and those numbers go up significantly if you go back more than a year.
* The largest cuts have come at the biggest papers, not surprisingly, and at chains. (The worst: 350 jobs lost at the Los Angeles Times since February.) Perhaps the safest place to work is at an independently owned paper in a mid-sized market. So far.
* Virtually all cuts are on the print side -- few papers, if any, have cut online staffing, fortunately.
* Until recently, voluntary buyouts were the usual method of cutting employment-but lately, many cuts have been through outright layoffs.
* Job cuts aren't the only thing going on-papers also are freezing hiring and shrinking through reduction of editions and sections, striking partnerships with other papers, closing bureaus and outsourcing some production (even copy-editing!) overseas.
* More than a handful of papers-and their owners-clearly are in fairly dire financial peril, losing money or having trouble making debt payments. And several papers have been put up for sale.
Bloggers We Love
Bridgette Redman and Lansing Theater
Drew McManus' "Neo Classical" at the Partial Observer
Marc Moss (Missoula, MT artist)
Mary Louise Schumacher's "Art City"
Other Great Sites
American Composers Orchestra
Arts & Letters Daily
Center for Arts and Culture
Cultural Policy and the Arts National Data Archive
National Arts Journalism Program
NEA Arts Journalism Institute for Dance Criticism
NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera
NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater & Musical Theater
New Music Box: American Music Center
USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program