Monitoring Change in Journalism - December 2009 Archive

18 December
France: Fears for Job Losses at Lagardère Radio Stations  Lagardère Active Group, the French media conglomerate, announced a restructuring plan at its local radio stations which caused concerns over job losses from both staff and unions. According to the management, the company is facing a "structural crisis". It plans to scale down its regional operation by closing 25 of its local radio stations and reducing around a quarter of its staff at regional level in France.

US: Official Report Predicts 25% Drop in Media Jobs by 2018
A recent federal report of the Bureau of Labour Statistics predicts that employment in the newspapers industry will drop from 326,000 to 245, 000 by 2018, which will constitute a decrease of almost 25% of the jobs in the industry. The report also shows that newspapers are among the top 10 industries slated for job losses, making the sector the second hardest hit just behind department stores. Contrary to predictions of the US employment bureau, a survey of over 530 US and Canadian newspapers executives and managers believe that the market will be up again with positive gains in advertising revenues by 2011. 
17 December

France: Le Records 11% Rise in Turnover Thanks to Online Edition 
Le, the online edition of French national daily Le Figaro, recorded a rise of 11% in this year's total revenue while its print edition's income continues to drop.

US: The Future of News in Virtual World?
InfoLab, an academic institute has introduced an innovative yet alarming idea of the future of news. The project called ‘News at Seven' shows a virtual world in which newscasts are solely generated by computer, including its animated TV anchors and the robotic reporting. Further, another on-going project called ‘Stats Monkey' will virtually play the role of journalists. According to the director of the project, ‘Stat Monkey' can generate highly analysed news stories in different topics for different audiences. Stories will also include quotes from individuals or organisations involved in the stories. 

16 December 2009

US: Miami Herald Rolls Out Voluntary Pay Option
The Miami Herald has introduced a new way of asking their readers to pay for its online content: readers  are directed to a payment page asking them to donate whatever amount they wish.  According to the management, some readers have already donated "a certain amount "  for their news , but it remains unclear whether the voluntary pay option is sustainable.

15 December

Spain: Economic Crisis Has Taken its Toll on Media Independence & Credibility
A survey conducted by the Press Association of Madrid (APM) reveals that recent economic crisis has taken its toll on media independence and credibility. A majority of 57.5% of the directors of national media outlets (including print and broadcasting media) said they enjoy  " less freedom "  in editorial independence. There is an increasing influence from advertisers and institutions. As a result, media lost credibility with a record low rating of 4.6/10. The survey results also show that the working conditions of journalists are worsening, with 29.4% respondents saying that they face a reduction in wages while 16% of them lost their jobs. Almost half (41.3%) of the respondents indicated that job insecurity has become their main concern.

14 December

France: 271 Voluntary Redundancies at Radio France Internationale
271 staff of Radio France Internationale (RFI) have opted for voluntary redundancies in the framework of the company's "restructuring plan" which originally foresaw only 206 redundancies. The unions have always been opposed to the plan imposed by the management without consultation and they consider the mass departure as a failure to reform the company. The high number of volunteers leaving the company represents a risk for the future of RFI.

Canada: 166 Staff Applied for Voluntary Redundancy at the Toronto Star
The Toronto Star, one of the highest-circulation newspapers in Canada, confirmed that 166 of its staff have applied for voluntary redundancy. Layoff notices were also issued to nine unionised newsroom employees following the announcement. The management of the Star said the company is facing a difficult situation: declining advertising revenues and structural changes in the media industry. The title has already outsourced around 80 of its copy editing and page production jobs.  The company expects more layoffs in the future. A 90-day consultation regarding the newspaper's collective agreement has also begun.

11 December

: 125 Year Old Journal ‘Editor & Publisher' Ceases Publication
Editor and publisher (E&P), the 125-year old monthly journal covering US newspapers industry news, announced its closure after its parent company, the Nielsen Co., sealed a deal with e5 Global Media Holdings. . It is not known yet how many staff in the E&P will be affected by the closure. E&P has been covering the impact of recent economic crisis on the US newspaper industry and the changing media landscape. The journal was awarded a dozen major awards since its first publication in 1901.

10 December

US: Rising Revenue and Falling Circulation?
Some newspapers seem to thrive on and enjoy rising revenues: according to the ABC October figures, weekly circulation of 379 US newspapers fell 10.6% year-on-year while circulation of Sunday newspapers dropped by 7.4%. However, some newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dellas Morning News, the New York Times and many others recorded a rise in circulation revenues due to the rise of subscription fees.  Although the rising prices in these newspapers caused a drop in readership, it also retained those who are loyal to the paper and value the content rather than price.

UK: Express Considers Replacing All Regional Journalists with News Agency
The British newspaper group, Express Newspapers, which include the popular press the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Star and the Sunday consider cutting almost all of regional reporters and replace the content with stories from news agencies.  At least 33 staff already applied for voluntary redundancy and Express is looking for another 15 redundancies.

8 December

Belgium: Around 200 Staff Face Layoffs in Dutch Media Groups
Two Dutch media companies, Perspgroep and Limburg Media Groep finally announced layoff plans in response to rapid drops in advertising revenue and newspaper subscription. The Belgium newspaper group, Perspgroep will lay off 131 staff at the Volksrant and Trouw newspapers, while Limburg Media Groep will cut 48 jobs. In the past two years, advertising revenues at the Limburg Media Groep have dropped by 25%. Newspapers subscription in Dutch households has also dropped by 12% since 1997 and yet, newspapers subscription account almost 90% of Dutch newspapers sale.

UK: PA to Cut Foreign Correspondents
The Press Association (PA) announced further cost-cutting plans to cut its New York correspondent posting following its earlier decision to withdraw its Brussels correspondent by 2012. Last month, PA already announced plans to drop seven reporters from its regional news team.

Canada: Journalist Tweeting the Trial
In a changing media landscape, the role of social media have become more important and transformed the way news is produced. A British journalist, Kate Dubinski, recently used Twitter to report a court trial in Canada and it attracted over 1,000 readers/tweeters to follow her ‘tweeting trial'. Different from traditional court reporting, she could tweet the trial live while traditional court reporter has to spend the day in the court and write the report next day. Kate said there is a huge potential in Twitter for journalists.

7 December

: The Future of Journalism: a Mix of Fictions and Facts?
As the media industry is searching for new business models, an Asian media company visions the future of journalism as a mix of fictions and facts. Next Media, owns the most popular tabloid newspapers in Hong Kong and Taiwan recently introduced animated ‘news reports' showing detailed plots that mixed with fictions and facts. Its recent animated ‘news' video featuring the scandal of the golf player Tiger Woods and his wife proved to be very popular and it has been viewed by more than 1.7m people from YouTube  ( ) . The management of Next Media said this could be the future of newspapers as animated news stories proved to be very popular among young people. There has also been increasing demand for the animated ‘news reports' since its introduction.
4 December

Finland: Local Media Shrinking in Ostrobothnia
Suomen Paikallissanomat, the regional publishing company in Ostrobothnia, Finland has been shrinking in recent years as many of its regional newspapers ceased publications. Recent closures include its local newspaper Kokkolan Sanomat, which has ceased publication on 3 December. The closure made five staff redundant. Publication of another local newspaper, Pyhäjokiseutu, will be reduced to twice a week. Faced with continuous losses, the company also decided to sell its regional newspaper, Vieskalainen, to the Finnish publishing company Jokilaaksojen Kustannus Oy.

US: More Job Cuts in the US News Industry
Faced with difficult economic climate, media companies in the US including Thomson Reuters, the Washington Times and the Miami Herald announced job cuts. Thomson Reuters will lay off 240 staff at its legal publishing division. Staff at the research team in North America will mostly be affected by the layoffs. The Washington Times also announced plans to cut at least 40% of its 370 employees and implement a free-distribution plan in selected governmental and public institutions. The Miami Herald will cut 24 jobs worldwide to survive the economic crisis.

UK: New Study Says Erecting Paywall Will not Save Industry
Just when publishers can taste their success after forcing the media giant Google to make a concession on limiting access to its new content (see MCJ 2 December), a new study shows that most readers are still not ready to pay for online news. The study also warns that mass paywall shift will not force readers to pay their online news but alienate newspapers' readers . Among 2,600 respondents, only 15% to 20% said they would pay £2 a month for their favourite news websites. However, readers of ‘quality' newspapers (the Independent and Guardian) said they would pay up to £5 a month for their online news. The study also suggests that a mixed strategy of subscriptions and micro-payments could prove more successful.

3 December
Global: Google to Charge TV Shows on Youtube
Google is in a ‘preliminary discussions' with broadcasters considering charging its popular video site YouTube to stream TV shows. The plan also includes the possibility to charge a rental price on TV shows, which is similar to iTune's rental scheme. It is reported that TV executives are generally excited about the idea as the plan could offer new revenue streams for them. In November, the UK broadcaster Channel 4 already partnered with Google and allowed YouTube to Stream some of its TV shows.

2  December

Global: Google News Limits Free Access to Appease Publishers
Google finally made a concession to limit access to its free news content after receiving much criticism from news publishers who have threatened to block Google News (see MCJ 25 November). Google announced change to its First Click Free feature for Google News and Google Web Search, restricting free access to news articles to only five articles a day for each user. The change, according to Google, will encourage more publishers to open up more content to users but at the same time, Google also admitted that ‘creating high quality content is not easy ... and expensive'

1 December

: N24 Staff Send Open Letter to its Management Demanding Jobs Security
Staff at the German news broadcaster, N24, sent an open letter to the management of ProSiebenSat.1, Thomas Ebeling to demand the corporation halt the job-cut plan. On 27 November, Ebeling announced plans to reduce costs for N24, which include cutting staff and reducing budgets for its news productions. However, staff at N24 opposed the cost-cutting measures out of concern that the measures will lead to poor quality content and threaten news diversity. The German Journalists Union (Deutscher Journalisten-Verband-DJV) also issued a statement and warned against a series of cuts taken by ProSiebenSat.1 in the past year.