Attention, subscribers: Word on the street is publication cutbacks for the print product will be announced today. Supporting this rumor: The rat has left the sinking ship.
Paper Tiger No More -- a former insider -- recounts of all the expensive side-projects The News
tried that wasted money. One thing left untried: Good Journalism.
Maybe if they cut the happy-talk crap and covered the political and economic life of Ann Arbor at first hand -- by attending meetings and interviewing the power brokers -- people in Ann Arbor would give a shit about their home-town paper.
Paper Tiger No More: Dear Newhouse, journalism - not gimmicks or cutbacks - is your only hope (long)
Second, while Michigan's economic woes and the current newspaper apocalypse are driving a large part of this move, Newhouse is greatly accelerating the destruction of its own products. The company's current strategy for its Michigan newspapers - if you really can call it a strategy - if nothing less than suicidal. You can't drive away, or buy out, a large proportion of your best journalists, decline to replace them, and expect customers to keep buying your product. Seriously, would anyone consider buying a car from Ford if they offered you half the options and worse gas mileage for the same price? That's what Newhouse is doing.
Lastly, given my experience at The Ann Arbor News, I have absolutely no confidence that the people in charge have any ability to react to these changes and/or adjust their strategy to make things better.
Let me give you a quick rundown of a few management-driven projects undertaken during my tenure at The News:
Book project 1: The sports department produced an excellent book on the 100th football game between Ohio State and Michigan, and the series in general. Management then signed a printing contract with a local real estate agent. Seriously, the guy was a part-time realtor, part-time book publisher. The book came out months later than it was planned and too late to take advantage of the anniversary hype. There was no national or regional distribution agreement with a single book store or chain when it did. The book was overpriced, under-distributed, and pallets of them were left to molder in the basement of the News until thousands were destroyed. I'd be surprised if we sold one copy for every 10 we destroyed.
So much more silliness at the link.