Big news needs a diet, not another round of layoffs

newmediadllyWe here it every day at Sensible City: the media is dying. But our attitude in this regard seems to stand lonesome, so we thought it might be worth a post.

While PR firms, “industry leaders” and CEOs line up with explanations (most of which have to do with advertising revenues and the cost of paper), nobody seems to be putting in much comment on the fact that the majority of the layoffs, buyouts and pink slips we are seeing are pointed at a particular group: the core producers of editorial and creative content. The second major group: marketing and sales.

Meanwhile the C level pay cuts are pretty dingy. This doesn’t represent the entire market, but its worth noting a common strategy:

How to save your news media giant in tough times:

  1. Continue to pay 7 figure salaries to executives. Make small reductions and report that you are “slashing” executive pay.
  2. Let go of a few problem executives and report to the public that you are trimming the fat.
  3. Ask editorial staffers, photographers, etc to give up their jobs and vitality for the sake of the business.
  4. Hire freelancers and pay them half as much, or, triple the workload of existing staff while reducing their freedom and resources.
  5. Cut costs, cut costs, cut costs. File financial reports.
  6. If 1-5 fail, take the money and run.

The above, of course, is a dramatization. So here is the question. Is the media dying, or is the big money media dying? Truth is there is a bit of both. But at a time when news editors are making less than McDonald’s managers and news CEOs are making more than bankers, we really would be wise to stop blaming everything on the recession.

So what about the news media companies that are successful and growing? Why are they so quiet at a time when big media is ducking tomatoes? I’ll post the results of that research next week.