A new season begins

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.
– Ecclesiastes 3:1

The past few months have been good for the blog. Summer provided a good bit of free time and some fun topics to write about. It also provided some much needed time with those closest to me. I was talking to a fellow friend displaced by higher education a few nights ago. We agreed – you never truly appreciate family and friends until you have left them. So I am thankful I received a season at home.

Now, it’s time to turn the page.

At the beginning of the month, I moved to Tuscaloosa, Ala. Next week, I begin my work as a Doctoral Assistant in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. Daunting as it may be, I am looking forward to immersion in the Ph.D. process. I like the future it promises; the possibilities now only imagined. With prayer I take this step, mindful that “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

But that has very little to do with the blog.

I am writing you to let you know I will not be writing you. At least as frequently. Or, at least not in as much depth. I hope to still share the occasional thought on more prominent events. That or bore you with stories about my research.

Best wishes for your next season. May we meet again soon.

Mass layoffs or ‘job notifications’? Advance’s attempt to spin its Deep South newspaper guttings

Six hundred employees at four Deep South newspapers lost their jobs Tuesday, as Advance Publications continues its transition to primarily digital news. The cuts hit newsrooms surprisingly hard, especially in the wake of Advance’s earlier commitment to “significantly increase online news-gathering efforts” and offer “richer” “deeper” “robust” “enhanced printed newspapers on a scheduled of three days a week.”

In May, Advance announced limited print schedules and a revamped online approach for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Birmingham News, the Mobile Press-Register, and the Huntsville Times.

[RELATED: Times-Picayune, part of New Orleans culture, scaling back; Alabama papers hit, too]

The Times-Picayune lost 49% of its news staff on Tuesday. The Birmingham News purged 60% of their journalists. In moves that cut roughly one-third of each newspaper’s overall staffing, it would seem that the actual news gatherers were hit disproportionately hard.

Advance promises that a portion of these positions will be refilled, no doubt by less experienced, more affordable reporters. Still, fulfilling the watchdog role of the press is awful tough work when there aren’t capable bodies there to do the groundwork.

And if yesterday’s events were any indication, the NOLA and AL media groups are going to have a lot of trouble covering their respective cities. Just look at how poorly they covered themselves…

Continue reading “Mass layoffs or ‘job notifications’? Advance’s attempt to spin its Deep South newspaper guttings”

Times-Picayune, part of New Orleans culture, scaling back; Alabama papers hit, too

Today is another in an almost decade-long line of sad days for the newspaper industry. Ownership of the New Orleans Times-Picayune announced Thursday that the newspaper will cut its print distribution to three days a week and shift resources to its website, NOLA.com. By the end of the afternoon, three more dailies in Alabama had been similarly downsized.

This is not just another small newspaper trimming down, or a competing paper in a large city getting out of the print business. With a daily circulation of over 150,000, the Times-Picayune is the largest newspaper to scale back printing dates and New Orleans is now the largest city in America without a daily newspaper, according to Poynter.

The move is part of a larger strategy for the newspaper’s ownership group, Advance Publications (often referred to as Newhouse, after the family that owns the company). Hours after the Times-Picayune news, Advance announced the same print schedule for the Birmingham News, Press-Register of Mobile, and the Huntsville Times – leaving three of the state’s four largest cities without a daily newspaper. The Alabama newspapers will place more emphasis on AL.com. Advance also recently consolidated a number of their Michigan newspapers and decreased printing days, eliminated home delivery, or took both measures in various markets.

The new NOLA Media Group promised more intensive online news-gathering “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” and feature-heavy print editions on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday – “the most valuable days for the newspaper’s advertisers,” said NOLA’s president Ricky Matthews in the group’s official release Thursday morning.

Continue reading “Times-Picayune, part of New Orleans culture, scaling back; Alabama papers hit, too”