Monday, 4 January 2010

Patrick Smith: 'Newspaper industry can't afford to lose many more reporters'

Patrick Smith in his last piece for paidContent:UK , before going freelance, looks at the prospects for newspapers in 2010.
He says they will still have to be patient before online investments really start to pay and warns that the pursuit of profits by the newspaper industry could hurt editorial quality.
Smith adds: "The thing that worries journalists and ordinary people isn’t EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) or profit margins, it’s how good their paper is.
"How can titles—many of which have seen their staff numbers drop by a third or more this year—still produce the same quality product? Here’s anonymous regional journalist “Blunt”, of the Playing the Game blog: 'The papers were constricted, in both pagination and editorial space, morale was at an all time low and it was the best we could do was to cling on by our fingertips to bring out papers that weren’t total shit.'
"The challenge for Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Newsquest, Archant and GMG Regional is to maintain a minimum level of editorial quality while driving revenue: it may simply be that - in a mass-reach-based, display and classified-led print media world - real quality and real profits are mutually exclusive. In other words, the industry can’t afford to lose many more reporters."

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