Picture of David Murphy is used for effect… no idea which beat writers will be cut or reassigned
Today in "what is going horribly wrong for your papers of record?"…
Wednesday night the New York Times reported on the impending sale of Philadelphia Media Network– owners of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com. In addition to addressing an earlier report that the company would lay off 37 newsroom employees, the NYT – one of the few newspaper companies that has handled the digital realm quite well – reported that PMN’s owner, Greg Osberg, was a bit too involved with the editorial process on stories involving the company’s sale and potential buyers. Osberg reportedly nixed details about the company’s worth – reported as $40 million (which is to say somewhere between a Jimmy Rollins and a Jonathan Papelbon, or just less than an Ilya Bryzgalov) but with a sale price of a $100 million – and steered stories about potential buyers toward a group led by Ed Rendell and Ed Snider.
Yeah, that’s not ethical… and this is coming from a guy whose last two post titles include the word fuck and boner, one for an article about a person whose newborn he (I) posted a picture of in December.
Anyway, it’s appearing increasingly likely that Rendell and Snider may be part owners of the city’s papers. Which raises the issue of something called “instrumentalization,” as described by NiemanLab.org:
This is what media and communications scholars call “instrumentalization,”where news organizations are owned and operated by groups less concerned with the day-to-day profitability of an independent outlet than with the influence media afford — the ability to advance various political or business interests. (And often both, for those involved in regulation-sensitive areas like real estate, telecommunications, and various forms of government-related contracting.) News media acquisitions in the U.S. are still mainly seen in a narrow business perspective, explained in terms of their real estate assets or brand value. But one should not forget that controlling a media company also holds out the promise of something more primordial than quarterly profits: power.
That’s a whole different issue which we’re not going to get into. What we are going to talk about, though, is this: Today, the Inquirer reported on what will happen to its news and sports staffs.
Under the plan, some elements of sports coverage, arts and other features stories, city and suburban reporting, and various editing functions would be coordinated and shared, Wischnowski said.
The same story might appear in both newspapers.
For example, the papers' sports departments intend to have one editor in charge of reporters from both staffs covering the Philadelphia Phillies, another for those covering the Philadelphia Eagles, and so on. Two reporters may still cover a Phillies game. However, one may be "digitally focused," Wischnowski said, posting news and video interviews to the Web, while the other may concentrate on a story for print.
Basically, as reported by CSN, that means there will essentially be one “beat writer” for each team, with perhaps a second person manning the online side of things. Actually, not a horrible plan.
It’s long been rumored, discussed and whispered that the Daily News, as we know it, will cease to exist. There is no longer a need for one company to pay two reporters to cover the same thing, especially when their articles appear right next to each other on Philly.com (sometimes in hilarious opposition).
Editors from the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com told the, um, Inquirer that each paper would retain its columnists (I’m assuming that includes sports, too) so both can keep their own voices… but you have to wonder how long that will last.
Times, they are a-changin’.