the ann arbor news to lay off employees: just what we need, fewer reporters

From Editor and Publisher (via YpsiDixit):

As many as 44 employees of the Ann Arbor (Mich.) News and the Ann Arbor Business Review could take buyouts under an offer put forth this week by those publications, which are owned by Advance Publications.

The News reported that a buyout offer had been made to those workers who are among 260 full-time staffers at the two publications.

Publisher Laurel Champion said the buyouts were strictly voluntary and were “sparked by the state’s weak economy,” the paper revealed. “We always are looking for ways to work smarter, to increase efficiency and to control costs and expenses,” she said. “We’re determined to make sure The Ann Arbor News remains strong and produces the high-quality newspaper that we publish every day. It’s essential that we provide quality service to our readers and to our advertisers. Of course, we must be flexible and look for new ideas for how we should operate. Above all, we must promote efficiency and cut costs”…

I can see why it’s necessary, given their falling advertising revenue and higher paper costs, but it couldn’t have come a worse time for our community. If we ever needed a vital independant press in this country, it’s now.

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  1. UBU
    Posted February 9, 2007 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Hear, hear — it already was one of the laziest newspapers I’ve ever seen, and becoming almost a completely cut and paste off the wire rag. When they have a photo about nasty weather the picture’s always taken from out of the window of the News building so they don’t even have to go outside! It’s scary to think how much lower they’ll go…

  2. egpenet
    Posted February 9, 2007 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    We can’t all go around individually to the courts with our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. And our local bloggers do not have the exposure to do the blasting around here that needs to get done.

    I declare us, as of today, to be utterly defenseless in the face of local, county, state and federal political, law enforcement, and legislative incompetence and malfeasance … not to mention the public’s need for accurate health and safety information. Trust the A2 News … not on my life!

    We no longer have an independent media, because they are all beholden to their advertisers. If there was ever in my lifetime a PLOT to BLIND the American public from the unvarnished truth … Oh … My … God!

  3. mark
    Posted February 10, 2007 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I have friends that work at the News and I don’t want to slag them. A lot of people over there bust their asses trying to deliver the news. Unfortunately, the entire industry is being pushed to the breaking point. There just isn’t enough time to deliver good, investigative journalism… And, in my opinion, it doesn’t help that UM doesn’t have a journalism program.

  4. mark
    Posted February 10, 2007 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    All the more reason we should work with the press we have here, giving them leads and helping them as best we can on their stories. Every little bit helps. I know that people from the News and Courier read this site, and watch Steve’s videos. If they see vibrant conversations on issues here, that singals to them that there’s something worth coverage.

  5. egpenet
    Posted February 10, 2007 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    It’s not a matter of “time to do investigative journalism,” it’s that newspaper owners and their advertisers feel it’s a waste of money. What’s more the genral public, obviously, doesn’t care.

    So what … a thug is shot in the back, a local landlord renegotiates bail … la, de, da.

    But there’s plenty of money to give us what we REALLY want … inside scoops on a dead playboy bunny, crime, rising smoke over a housing complex and three dead little babies, sports, tv, the Grammys, and the Oscars … anything to keep us occupied while we’re not out on the streets scraping to pay our bills and taxes.

    Keep the rabble occupied … more “reality” TV … and it’s cheap, as well, to produce. Give Howie Mandell 25 briefcases and watch him go!

    Thomas Paine didn’t need a newspaper.

    Hopefully, the blogers will pick up the slack, as well as a cudgle. It isn’t a matter of great numbers. Most colonists in the 1770s were satisfied that SOMEBODY was in charge, even if it WAS the British … they were better than the Dutch. Well, while most slept, we built a new nation.

    Not having strong local print and/or electronic news organizations is a tremendous weakness for our local society. Everybody touts the “culture” of Washtenaw County (UMS, etc.). Yes, there’s NPR, but look what the Feds have done to public radio’s budget.

    Like Peer Gynt’s onion, decade after decade, society is being peeled apart layer by layer and separated into little comfy enclaves (and ghettos) so we cannot communicate with one another.

    Reconstruction sectioned us off from one another. Urban renewal further sectioned us off. The relntless “modernization” in manufacturing (steel, autos, energy, pharma … even Pfizer) further separates the working classes from the bosses.

    Without the voice of serious journalism, there is no societal voice from the center to help expose, compose or propose.

    We are not victims, but we are becomming so ill-informed that we are more easily manipulated into believing the latest line from Washington, Lansing or the corner of Huron & Michigan.

    I hadn’t felt such an overwhelming feeling of consensus … we’re all in this boat together
    … until I facilitated the meeeting at the Senior Center the other night. We weree all theree TOGETHER. And all we wanted to know were the facts. And each of us shared the same solidarity. It was fabulous.

    TODAY, five years into the Iraq war, EVERYBODY knows the President lied. Where was congress? Where was the press?

    With another important round of elections on the horizon, and with serious local issues for voters this Spring … without a strong press … what will be the standard for the truth? Will Hillary or Barak or Romney shape their speech … you bet. And what is the truth? Regarding Water Street … what is the truth? Regarding the proposed City Income Tax … what is the truth? Why did Mr. Ware have to die … what is the truth?

    Without a strong press … what is the truth? I don’t think I will ever really know.

  6. egpenet
    Posted February 11, 2007 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Sunday AM …

    This morning on Meet The Press, a generous panel of five of the top TV and Syndicated reporters were discussing how the press is being repressed, depressed and otherwisee cornered by the government, which has been using its “insider scoops” to plant misinformation and/or to otherwise advance their politics.

    On top of all of the cutbacks in national news bureaus and international bureaus, we are soon to be without a viable national press sufficiently strong to “push back” and otherwise create the kind of public “blow back” necessary to reign-in government.

    In point of fact, panelists this morning said they know of colleagues who are in the process of burning, shredding or otherwise destroying their files. So much for a freee press! So much for historical archives! So much for documenting the truth!

    Pressure is coming from both sides of the aisle. Why should government worry any longer about “damage control,” when there is no truly free press to damage.

    I look at my Sunday A2 News sitting on the counter and wonder, who was writing about the Pfizer boardroom while cover story after cover story was being written about Google. Is Google gonna stiff the County? Odds are, yes. And who’s next. I smell smoke … don’t you?

    OK. What’s left … ? So, what channel is American Idol on? What case number had the million? Who’s left on the island? How much are the Yankeeeees paying that Japanese pitcher? Now, THOSE are STORIES!

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