Posted on July 3, 2008
In hindsight, it was poor resource allocation
While marveling at the very idea that 876 people work in editorial at the Los Angeles Times (and catching up on two months of blog reading), I read this:
… the question came to mind — if a newsroom, under economic pressure, can afford to lose 10, 20, 30 or even 50 staff positions now, why couldn’t those same newspapers have lost them five years ago — and lost them to the Internet side of the business?
Imagine if the Los Angeles Times had shifted 50 or 100 positions to web-only content production five or 10 years ago how much further along would LATimes.com be in audience growth today?
Indeed. It’s a very sobering thought. Not only for the L.A. Times, but for all the other newspapers too. Much time has been squandered while allowing non-Web-savvy managers to steer online news operations, and meanwhile, the public has been steadily moving online for almost all its information and communication activities. Yoo-hoo … hello … ?
I know there’s no point in crying over spilled milk, but maybe the publishers and executive editors and division heads could reflect, just a little bit, on how they consistently slighted the online staffing and the online work during the past 10 years. There were people in almost every newsroom who understood this sea change, if not in 1995, then at least by 1999. Their knowledge was ignored. There was ample time to set a wise course that would have brought many of these organizations to a safe harbor by now.
It would be a wonderful study for a scholar of enterprise management.
On the bright side, some managers are finally seeking new ideas:
We are charged to take a blank sheet of paper and come up with a way to make the Spokesman newsroom efficient while completing all of its objectives. The eight of us are meeting every day, often for several hours at a time, to work through this process.
That’s Nick Eaton, in Spokane, Wash. His editor gave him and seven other young journalists 11 days to write a plan.