Monday, October 01, 2018
Welcome To The Press-Republican - Adirondack Daily Enterprise - Glens Falls Post Star - Watertown Daily Times Newspaper
(C) 2018 Luke T. Bush
PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- 10/1/18
Hear that giant sucking sound? It's an out-of-state financial entity draining the lifeblood out of your local newspaper.
Yes, the internet has slammed your local newspaper head on,, E.g., people digitally placing ads (Craigslist) instead of staying with the traditional dead tree classified ads.
Your newspaper would be doing better without an outside entity treating it as a temporary source of money, the priority not journalism but keeping its investors happy.
And nothing keeps an investor happier than getting a good return on increased profits even though those profits are killing the paper, deep cuts resulting in a cheap next-to-useless product. Case in point: Press Republican.
The initial cut was producing fewer pages. Also there was the shift to decreasing the size of the paper, trimming off the long edge. If the narrowing activity kept up the PR would have ended up toilet paper width.
Outsourcing layout saves money but cheapens the product even more. Ever try to solve a crossword puzzle with the bottom row and a clue cut off? How hard is it to properly print the crossword? If you can't at least do that correctly then forget it. And let's not forget a display ad covering up an article's last paragraph.. Blundering such simple layout tasks repeatedly shows ineptness, indifference.
Newspaper reporters were never paid that well. Some of them move on to better paying jobs like public relations hack or dog-catcher. But even relatively low wages isn't enough: cut staff and make the survivors wear more than one hat, double/triple/etc. duty.
When the newspaper runs short on text -- a newshole too big to fill with articles -- then print the photos a lot bigger, close to covering half of the page. Such jumbo photos evoke the glory days of LIFE magazine.
Another way to fill in the newshole with articles instead of oversized pics is to share articles with other regional newspapers. Have you taken a good look at the Press Republican lately? Two articles from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise dominated the Sunday edition (9/30/18) front page.
So your "Hometown Newspaper of Clinton, Essex, and Franklyn Counties" also runs articles from the Glens Falls Post Star and the Watertown Daily Times. That gives the PR a real "hometown" feel.
Sometimes the PR publishes articles without bylines, no credit to the writer. While this could be the result of layout bungling, omitting the reporter's name, more likely what you are reading is a press release. Such an "article" only presents the POV of a company, educational institution, or governmental agency that created it. The reader only gets one side of the story, the favorable one. That ain't news.
CNHI (formerly Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.) owns the Press Republican. The Retirement Systems of Alabama, the administrator of the pension fund for Alabama state employees, has treated CHNI as an investment, nothing more. While the fund is funded, the PR is fucked.
But don't worry: there's a new publisher at the PR. And while his staff is making do with less, he's helping the newspaper by...
Huh. What are a publisher's duties? No editing, writing articles, taking photographs, making deadlines. What does that person do all day? Well, he does get a good salary for it. And his position must be vital with all of the cuts only on the lower levels. For example non-sales PR employees have to take a one-week furlough -- or DWOP (Days Without Pay) -- per quarter.
What does the future hold? CHNI in the process of selling its newspapers, all or piecemeal. Will the next owner care about quality journalism? Or will new profiteers drain the PR into a bloodless husk, a newspaper operation not even worth buying for a dollar?