Thursday, March 13, 2008

Katie get your keyboard

Wapo's Katherine Weymouth:

I need not tell you that our industry is undergoing a seismic shift as readers face an array of media choices and our traditional advertising and circulation bases decline. The good news is that the appetite for news is as robust as ever. Thanks to our presence on the Internet and the terrific site at, our Internet audience has exploded. We have more readers now, and more far flung readers, than we have ever had. And on-line revenues are growing. But, as you know, they are not yet growing fast enough to offset the declines we are seeing in print revenues. As we move forward, barring a dramatic turn around in the business conditions, our path is pretty straightforward: we will have to reduce our cost structure.

More readers + less revenue = fewer employees. I'm not interested in attacking Weymouth's decision here, but I wonder about what she didn't say. The demand for newspapers, and their ads, is declining, but that obviously isn't saying that the demand for news is down. Or has the explosion of video games and online porn and reality TV and psuedo-news like Crazy Talk radio reduced the demand for actual real news itself*? The data to make at least an educated guess about this are out there, and I would imagine the people at Wapo making the decisions about whose job is no longer needed looked at them (Do they get rid of reporters or some Schmoe working in printing?). I would also like to see them talk about this subject, if only on page A22 or whatever, or hell, do the modern thing and talk about it in a blog entry. The boom in information disseminators (the internet, wireless communication) is changing the world at a hurricane rate; these people are close to the eye of the storm, but they aren't doing a great job of reporting what they see. And yet that's their job. Makes you wonder why they are having trouble.

Anyway, here's hoping Broder and Ignatius are offered, and take, the buyout (fat chance, I know). I can't imagine any two people in the whole organization are more useless.

* Weymouth's statement about "the appetite for news" doesn't go far enough, as Wapo might just be vulturing the eyeballs of people who used to get their news elsewhere, particularly local newspapers, which are struggling mightily these days. I wonder what they would say about the "appetite for news". She had to come to this conclusion based on more data points than's "explosion" in internet viewers. Right?