The newspaper industry is like nearly all others in the United States: Changing times and economic difficulties are forcing industry leaders to make serious decisions.
It's well documented that a large number of American newspapers, particularly those in big cities, have gutted their newsroom staffs and reduced the number of publishing and home-delivery days as a method to stem the economic losses and deal with the advent of online journalism. (The Star's parent company, Consolidated Publishing Co., hasn't been immune to these economic changes.)
This week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer became the latest U.S. newspaper to gut its staff. Fifty or so newsroom employees -- a third of the staff -- were told they were being let go. Compare that to what's happened in Los Angeles, Portland and New Jersey recently, not to mention last year's cuts and delivery changes in some of Alabama's largest newspapers. The trend isn't going away. A blog on Philly.com is an excellent read on this issue.
Meanwhile, there is the Orange County (Calif.) Register, which is making headlines for its approach. Instead of cutting and gutting, its owners and editors are adding -- to the staff, to the content, to the product. Their approach is getting attention because it's both trend-bucking and it's working.
As The Guardian newspaper in England wrote, "The (California) paper's ambitious expansion and defiance of conventional wisdom has cheered and baffled the industry. Is it for real? Is there a magic formula to avert cutbacks and slumping circulation?"
-- Phillip Tutor