“Web Saving Newspaper Jobs!” And Now the Bad News…


Some rejoicing in the nation’s newsrooms as PBS MediaShift’s Mark Glaser reports that the number of newspaper jobs is NOT decreasing despite heavy job cuts–because newspapers are hiring or retraining so many people to ramp up their digital operations.  This sounds nice–an orderly transition from print to online–but it paints too pretty a picture. 

As described in detail here, the real problem for newspaper companies (and employees) is that online news generates a tiny fraction of the revenue of print news.  For a newspaper web site to be profitable, therefore, it has to piggyback on the free content provided by the print newsroom.  As the print newsrooms shrink, the content will go away (or come from somewhere else), and the companies won’t be able to “hire the reporter back” to the online operations.

And then there are the long tenures (read: high salaries), unions, benefits, etc., that many soon-to-be-eliminated print jobs have that new digital jobs don’t–which is good news for the web operations but bad for reporters who think their necks will be saved by a plumb offer from a web site.  All of which is to say that you can’t gauge the health of newspaper industry employment just by counting job listings.  (via Paidcontent)

See Also: Running the Numbers: Why Newspapers are Screwed