Friday, 4 February 2011

The Glum Times - an enjoyable two-page read

Oh dear, glum times in the newsroom as the age-old gripe returns; paginations.

In the heady days of easily-achieved 30% profit margins, expenses that served as your food shopping and two reporters (plus photographer) for every job, the possibility of cutting pages was folly, where would there be space for all of the advertisers knocking down our door to hand us their used £50 notes?

Alas, as we all know, those days are long gone.

Instead, we've all seen the cost-cutting initiatives rolled out in force across newspaper groups, all featuring a snappy, employee-friendly name like 'Aim Higher', 'Pursuing Excellence', when they should just be honest and call them 'Pursuing Lost Old Profits' - or PLOP for short.

So it was as we were glumly informed that due to a slow January (when is January not slow?) for advertising, our papers were going to be reduced to about one page of news each.

The raising of eyebrows around the conference table was almost audible among those who have been here before because we know how this goes.

Cut paginations, fewer stories, fewer staff.

The amount of resigned indignation was incredible and I suspect most people in the office are going to spend their Friday afternoon updating their CVs.

So why do management continue to chase that which is long past?

While none of us are so fucking stupid as to pretend things are easy out there, nor are we so naive as to think we are actually losing money.

We're not, and we know it.

Oh no, the problem for those enjoying a whopping pay increase is that the margins are falling, so for example, instead of making a £4,000,000 profit this year, we're heading for a mere £3,000,000 profit.

Obviously, the multinational companies that now own your local and regional newspapers couldn't give a flying fuck that this is still a hugely profitable business, they merely want to earn as much as they can, as much as last year, as much as ten years ago, so fuck us all over in a bid to return to that level.

It's absolute lunacy and must end. And I'm comfortable predicting that it will come to an end, in one way or another, this year.

How long before Newsquest, or Northcliffe, simply grows tired of not making the profits they used to and sells everything?

Surely it won't be long.

And far from fearing that day, I relish it coming, because once the evil empires loosen their grip on everything anyone reads and looks at online, the groups will splinter, some taken on by independent owners, even worker groups.

Then, and only then, will we see a newspaper run properly once more, by people who care about what goes in, what doesn't go in, and cares about the quality of the package over and above a huge profit margin.

Perhaps then we will see a newspaper that is happy with a 10% profit - 10% of a lot is still a lot - and will invest in quality product and people.

But am I just dreaming? You tell me...

Meanwhile, I'm off to update my CV and work out how I can maintain a story count in a newspaper the size of a Starbucks napkin.

You can, should you be minded, follow me on Twitter - @haplesshack - or email me at

No comments:

Post a Comment