Commentary

TV, Digital Media Not Immune From Editorial Cuts

TV news networks, advertisers and especially reporters won’t like this news, though it seemingly doesn’t affect them: It’s about their print competitors.

Tronc, the owner of the New York Daily News, is slashing half the paper's editorial staff. Editor-in-chief Jim Rich is among those out the door.

Is competitive digital media an issue?

We can read the tea leaves. Standard Media Index continues to reveal double-digital percentage advertising print declines -- 22% -- in the second quarter -- all the while digital media continues to climb.

Print media is plagued by consumers getting their news elsewhere -- especially from social media. For its part, Tronc executives, in a email, told its staffers, it wants a new direction: “re-focusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility.”

What does that mean for feature stories?

All this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Tronc did some massive jobs slashing for its Chicago Tribune in March. Reports say more cuts are coming to a Tronc newspaper in Virginia.

What about TV networks? They are not immune, either.

Earlier this year, CNN said it would be laying of 50 digital staffers. Local cable news network NY1 made cuts last year, under new owner Spectrum. A year ago, Disney/ABC Television said it would be cutting back on some 300 staffers overall -- mostly from entertainment businesses.

Yes, all sorts of media organizations make tough financial decisions -- in goods times and bad.

Reading between the lines, it may be an old versus new media battle. If Facebook, Google, Twitter or Snapchat, ever decide to ramp up independent efforts when it comes to news gathering, that financial dynamic could accelerate to more grave results.

Pew Research Center says 36% of large U.S. newspapers have suffered layoffs since 2017 -- even with the supposed renaissance of newspapers, due to heighten interest around political news, including the Trump Administration.

What’s the future hold? Here’s a point of view from Jim Rich, the outgoing editor of the New York Daily News, who tweeted:

“If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.”

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