I've been so busy juggling about six hellacious stories that I've been neglecting the roots of this blog -- coverage of the local media. I think another reason is that it's just too damn depressing and it seems like Groundhog Day. More corporate idiocy and more layoffs all the time. .
Remember the part of that goddamn great film when Bill Murray finds new ways to kill himself every day? That's sort of where we are in the newspaper business.
And I have a bad feeling that we're going to wake up soon to hear about more layoffs at the Sun-Sentinel. One clue is yesterday's announcement that 300 jobs were being cut by the Los Angeles Times, another Tribune Co. newspaper. Seventy of those jobs will be lost in the newsroom.
I've noticed that these dying newspaper corporations usually do these types of layoffs company-wide. Very well might not be the case here, but it's not a good sign.
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Another bad omen is a plan at the flagship Tribune paper, the Chicago Tribune, to judge employees based on "attitude." To wit: "Another new companywide assessment category is Attitude. Our attitudes influence our own behavior and performance, and also that of our colleagues'. We believe positive attitude is crucial to our changing culture and all that must be accomplished for our company to be successful."
This is more Zell/Michaels/Abrams bullshit. Most of the best journalists I've ever known had the lousiest attitudes imaginable. And with the management at Tribune right now, the best journalists are at wit's end. But the point of my bringing this up is that it just gives the newspaper more excuses to get rid of people as this downturn grinds on.
Another sign comes from that L.A. Times memo. That newspaper is actually rolling up the local section into the front section. That's radical shit, but in these insane times it goes off with barely a mention. You can bet that the same change will happen at the Sentinel, which will reduce newshole -- and the need for as many reporters.
The answer to the question in the headline, I assure you, is yes. It's just a matter of when. And it's not going to stop. I've said it before: Tribune is going to kill the Sentinel and every other newspaper it owns. The newspapers could possibly survive (barely) as independent entities but not when they are sinking under the burden of Tribune's $13 billion debt. Same goes for that penny stock known as McClatchy. Fuck Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankers, it's time to face it, all that debt is never going to be paid. It's time for fire sales. Now.