John C. Dvorak: It’s the Redundancy, Stupid

Posted on March 21, 2008 
Filed Under Journalism

Tech provocateur John Dvorak takes on the news industry:

I think much of the problem stems from what I’ve been harping on for years: redundancy. Simply put, there are too many newspapers selling the exact same news. And because the owners of these papers do not understand the fact that the public hungers for original material, different from all the rehashed AP stories, papers will continue to slide.

I can assure you that if you plot the amount of money paid out to writers against salaries paid to executives at the same companies, the writers get the short end of the stick. Today a competent newspaper reporter could easily make twice as much money if he or she was in PR. What does that tell you about priorities?

Generally speaking, when there are layoffs at a newspaper, first the support staff goes; then the reporters, along with a few editors. This cheapens the product; and the public senses the cheapness and rejects it. The paper’s income is further reduced, resulting in a downward spiral of quality.

During the current downturn, I wonder whether one single paper has said, “It looks like our subscriber base is dwindling, and the young people are not reading the paper. It’s time we beefed up coverage. We have to find more writers and editors and put them to work to improve our product.”

Exactly when did cheapening the product and making it worse become the way to do things in the U.S.A.?

“Hey, our cars are crap. Let’s make them worse!”

“Good thinking, Benson! Give yourself a raise!”

“Hey our airplanes are crashing left and right and people are not buying them anymore. Let’s see if we can make them cheaper! That will solve our problems!”

What am I not getting?


Related links:

Happy newsrooms, sad newsrooms

When Journalists Aren’t Happy, the Industry Isn’t Happy

Time For Newspaper Publishers To Reset Targets

US: Washington Post memo reforms editing process

Generosity as a business model


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