the media landscape is changing

[tweetmeme source=”storylinePR” only_single=false]The media landscape has changed dramatically in the past year.  News outlets are working on tighter budgets with fewer resources.  There have been a number of layoffs in print and broadcast and the process in which the news gets sourced and reported has also changed with many outlets moving to online coverage. Many newspapers are now utilizing content sharing techniques to combat cut backs and lack of staff resources and are turning to social media platforms.

CTV Ottawa did a good job of summing up the trends in the newspaper business… “A year of red ink for the newspaper business“.  Here is the summary…

Even before 2009 got rolling, there were big cuts in the newspaper business in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere.  In Canada, nearly every major media company had cuts at some point, some of which happened before the year got started.

  • November 2008.  Canwest Global Communications Corp. cut some 560 jobs, or about five per cent of its workforce.
  • December 2008. Sun Media slashed 600 jobs in Western Canada, Ontario and Quebec, the equivalent of about 10 per cent of its workforce. The cuts at both companies were harbingers of the year to come.
  • January 2009. The Globe and Mail said it was cutting 80 jobs — or 10 per cent of its workforce — so that it could trim costs at the paper.
  • February 2009.  Torstar Corp. announced it would cut 64 full-time positions its Hamilton Spectator, Waterloo Region Record and Guelph Mercury newspapers.
  • March 2009. Torstar Corp. laid off 60 employees at its printing plant in Vaughan, Ont., where the Toronto Star and other papers are printed. Star publisher John Cruickshank said the cuts was partially motivated by the decreasing size of the paper.
  • Also in March, the New York Times cut 100 positions and planned to cut non-union salaries for the rest of 2009.
  • April 2009. The Canadian Press announced that it would be cutting about eight per cent of its work force, the equivalent of some 25 positions.
  • October 2009. The CBC and the National Post announced a content sharing agreement for their respective websites — as well as the opportunity to run CBC sports material in the Canwest-owned newspaper. And in late December, the two companies said they would team up for 2010 Olympic Games coverage.
  • November 2009. The Toronto Star said it would contract out newsroom production work and slash dozens of jobs to save an estimated $4 million per year.  The same week, the venerable Washington Post would close down its remaining U.S. bureaus outside the Washington area.

Shut downs, close calls and question marks

  • In January, about 250 members of Le Journal de Montreal got locked out of their workplace. The staffers launched a website,, which they have been updating on a regular basis. But they have still not returned to work.
  • The first major newspaper to be trampled in the Year of the Ox was Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, which printed its last edition on Friday, Feb. 27, about two month’s shy of the paper’s 150th anniversary.
  • The paper had won four Pulitzer Prizes in the past decade and employed 230 editorial employees. It had a daily circulation of 210,000 and 457,000 on Sunday. But the E.W. Scripps Co. had to shut it down because it was losing too much money.
  • About three weeks later, the Hearst Corp.-owned Seattle Post-Intelligencer stopped existing in print form. The last print edition of the 146-year-old paper came out on a Tuesday. It had been losing money for years. When the Post-Intelligencer first went online, Managing Editor David McCumber expected that it would employ a newsroom of 20 people, as well as 20 people to sell advertisers. The paper had 181 employees.
  • At the start of May, the National Post announced that it would cease publishing its Monday print edition for the summer. The reason? To pare down its costs during “unprecedented economic conditions,” president Paul Godfrey said in a note to readers.
  • In September, Montreal’s La Presse newspaper threatened to close its operations on Dec. 1 if management and staff could not reach an agreement on cutting costs. The 125-year-old paper announced Nov. 26 that it had reached an agreement with the last of its eight unions.
  • At the end of October, Canwest Global Communications warned that it could be forced to close the National Post if a court did not allow to shift the newspaper’s operations into a different holding company.   In the end the paper didn’t fold, but court documents revealed it had lost $62.4 million over the past four years and owed $139.1 million to its holding company, Canwest Media.

Many businesses, big and small, have had to evolve with industry trends to stay competitive and on top of their game.   The PR industry is no different.  One of the most fascinating things about social media from a public relations perspective is how it has become the “newspaper of record” for so many users.

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