Tuesday 15 November 2011

Editors say editorial staff down 29% since 2007

A new Society of Editors' survey reveals that editorial staff numbers have fallen by 29% since 2007.

The survey of editors' attititudes by consultant Jim Chisholm says content generation staffing has fallen by 19%, levels of editorial management have fallen by 37% and in editorial production by 37%.

In terms of volume of material produced, since 2007 traditional output has fallen by 17%, while digital output has increased by 163%, the survey says.

The survey report adds: "Inevitably given the decline in staff numbers and training resources, and the impact on productivity, the ability to innovate and the negative effect on sale was raised many times."

Asked "if you were the head of or a major shareholder of your organisation what strategic decisions would you make in the next 12 months?" some of the editors responded:

• Fewer bean counters, more visionaries. Invest sensibly in products and staff. Radically reshape print publishing portfolio. Get on the front foot.

• Focus on quality of writing - the most old fashioned skill of all.

• Go free: cut ad rates: belong to communities - drop arrogance from your dictionary.

• I would go back to on the day editions and only put the first two pars of any story on the internet. The public can buy the paper to read the rest. We are giving away our content for nothing, it's ridiculous.

• I would hire a staff member to trawl and engage with social media full time both as a source of potential news and as a conversational-marketing tool to reach new users.

• Invest in journalists and journalism.

• Invest in retraining journalists to be multi-media experts.

• Look at new ways of bringing in revenue to protect and grow our newspapers. Grow our websites but not at the cost of traditional newspapers.

• Make the newsroom a 24-hour. When you're on the press, on-the-air, you are online! The news never stops. The climate in the newsroom needs to be one where when the paper is printed or the news program is completed it doesn't mean it is the end of the day.

Sell out at whatever price I can get; negotiate an orderly default on loans to JP and Trinity Mirror.

• Withdraw from the stock exchange and run the company for the benefit of customers, both editorial and advertisement, by reducing cover price and advertising rates, increase wages and accept sustainable profit margins.

• Work as hard as possible on finding a digital business model that works for my content.

The Society of Editors emailed its membership and a number of other senior figures an invitation to complete an online survey. During October and November; 2011; 23% responded. The questionnaire included both standard choice and open-ended questions.

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