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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cuts at the RJ. Why should I care?

People do not understand experience, expertise and history. Nor do most people care. We see it in our lives. I am seeing it in my current election. Cuts at the RJ and Sun show the lack of value now in selling newspapers and any sense of local community.

The Sun cut half its staff last year. The RJ cut another 22 reporters this last Friday, after previous cuts in the spring, last winter and last year. Yet the editors say that coverage will not change.

12,000 daily newspaper journalist have lost their positions (not just their jobs, but not replaced) over the past 12 years nationally. In addition national and international bureaus where a local perspective can be placed on outside issue that impact your town are closing in favor of one view pooled reporting. Stories that once were covered will go unseen and uncovered.

City hall and country government reporters were laid off…both higher paid. The truth is that the people with background, contacts and history are gone. There no longer is media beat, arts and entertainment are reduced, investigative is gone entirely. The RJ are sharing reports from local reports by other papers and wire services (AP, LA Times and so on) with less local knowledge and perspective.

And the award winning photographers are gone. It is hardest on them as they do not own their own equipment (a journalist camera runs $2,500 to $10,000, plus the computer and programming used today by the photographer).

The RJ already had the smallest reporting and editorial staff for size of market of any major newspaper in the country.

There will be another shift of changes…layoffs and other leaving because of the climate of the paper. That will allow some new reporters to come on board, with the perspective of where they come from and not a feeling or identity as Nevadans. Plus the younger reporters who do join the paper will be learning in this sized market, when historically the sort of trial and error they experience was learned either as a junior cub reporter or in a much smaller market, where the stakes are less high.

There is a brain drain in Las Vegas. Now journalist have joined that drain, despite the increase in market size and importance.

So more stories by visiting LA and NYC reporters with no market knowledge, less reporting by reporters who know the market and the players.

At least at the RJ and the Sun (where deep cuts were last year).

Local television is pooling its reporting, with Channel 8 locally handling the news for four television stations, and channel 3 for two. That means fewer newsrooms and fewer journalist. Television staff has been cut as well, here and nationally. Radio news is almost dead. Bloggers do not have the training, education or balance in their approach.

And today the ability to do audio, video and print are vital for reporters no matter which media you seek employment in. Almost all reporters have to blog, many with video and audio clips, increasingly shoot their own photos or video and even edit the material.

The number of eyes inspecting for accuracy, history, grammar, spelling and perspective have been reduced, as fact checkers and proof readers are almost as ancient as dinosaurs, and there are fewer editors with greater responsibilities per editor.

So where is journalism going?

Blogs?  Most bloggers take material from other reporters  and sources, distort them, repeat them over and over and add personal opinion rather than considering a questioning balanced journalism. Talking heads, shouting blogs, controversy and link words over content and factual reporting.

On-line publications? No one has figures out how to make a profit, other than by selling it to another owner or bidder. Journalism is going to help divide the society into classes that are divided by knowledge, how informed they are. The have's will afford newspapers, subscription on-line and targeted reports. The have-nots will have headlines, reality TV and pulp "fiction."

More to come....

By Art Lynch
First run 8/22/11

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