Reading or hearing about the layoffs in print and TV is enough to make those of us in the business quiver. If you review entries in my blog in the past couple of months, you’ll see many of them are about layoffs in the newspaper industry. But slowly, the broadcasters have been following suit.
NBC was the first one to announce big job cuts when it went into 2.0 mode at the end of 2006. ABC just last week laid-off 20 folks. But CBS’s draconic cuts around the country has many in shock and wondering about the impact on the quality of the news product to come – and if they could be next. Is the TV industry really in that much trouble?
“If you’re used to 45 percent profit, then if you only have 20 or 30, it feels like you’re in the poor house,” Bob Papper told reporter Joe Garofoli of the S.F. Chronicle. Papper is a journalism professor at Hofstra University, who is also in charge of doing a yearly TV survey for RTNDA.
Garofoli’s assesment: “the TV news layoffs are more a reflection of a transforming media marketplace – and the financial expectations that are changing with it.”
The 2008 State of the News Media report indicates the local TV news business “remains robust,” with newsrooms “a big factor in the economic success of local television.” Even though the study, produced by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, points out there’s been a drop in the evening newscast ratings, newsrooms “contributed 42% to a station’s total revenue, according to local news directors.” That’s why half of the country’s news directors reported increasing their budgets last year – because they maintain their newsrooms are profitable. So then… why eliminate the very people that are helping the station keep its news credibility and those elusive revenues?
“They’re fighting a continued fragmentation of the market,” says Papper.” Just as newspapers have found out, there are a lot more places to go to get news.”
While station spokespeople may argue the cutbacks won’t affect the station’s coverage, experts like Papper doubt it. Less people… and less experienced journalists, covering more.
What do you think? Leave a comment.