September 3 – September 10, 2009 Edition

Newspaper Cuts May Impact Younger Reporters

SAN FRANCISCO/Authorlink News/09/02/09–Financially stretched newspapers are losing many of their youngest reporters, editors and photographers at a time when publishers are trying to break old habits and learn new tricks on the Internet, according to the blog Taragana.

A recent survey by Associated Press Managing Editors, an industry trade group, showed massive newspaper staff cuts across the U.S. will make it more difficult for the industry to adapt to the age of digital media.

Most of the 95 editors responding to the August survey said their newsroom staffs had shrunk by more than 10 percent during the past year. And workers between 18 and 35 years old represented the largest age group affected by the layoffs, buyouts and attrition, the survey found.

Meanwhile, the survey’s respondents indicated minorities working in newsrooms were among the demographic groups least affected by the cutbacks.

Men have been harder hit by the past year’s cutbacks than women, according to the newspaper editors who answered the APME survey.

The 13-question poll didn’t mine a representative sample of the roughly 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Still, the findings highlight how staff reductions are making it harder for many newspapers to cater to the interests and needs of their audiences.

“Retaining younger workers may be more important than ever as the Internet reshapes the way stories and photographs are assembled and presented,” according to the blog report. “While many older journalists are adapting, the adjustment presumably isn’t as difficult for younger workers who have grown up with the Internet and may have honed their digital skills in college. Having the viewpoints of younger workers also helps newspapers identify trends and issues affecting younger generations.”

The Huntsville Times in Alabama has been relying on its younger reporters to help teach everyone else in the newsroom how to tap into popular sites like Facebook and MySpace to find story ideas and sources, said Curtis Coghlan, the newspaper’s managing editor.

“It really has helped our coverage become younger (in tone) and more in touch with what’s going on in the community,” Coghlan said. “It has really helped us get more diverse stories into the paper faster.”

Persuading current and prospective workers that newspapers remain an attractive career option is getting more difficult as the industry’s financial woes mount. Nearly one-quarter of the newspaper industry’s annual advertising sales have evaporated during the last two years, and analysts don’t expect all of it to come back after the U.S. economy recovers from the longest recession since World War II.

The gloomy outlook reflects a widely held belief that advertisers will increasingly shift spend more of their marketing money to the Internet. Newspapers have been building up their Web sites to capitalize on the shift, but online ads don’t generate nearly as much revenue as print ads.

With less money coming into newspapers, a large number of employees are seeking better opportunities in other industries that offer more job security, according to the survey.

Read the whole story at Taragana.