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A Look at the Effects of Media Consolidation on America's Newsrooms
by Democracy Now (reposted)
Thursday Nov 16th, 2006 9:43 AM
In an effort to cut costs, the owners of many of the nation's newspapers are slashing the amount of money spent on reporting and laying off staff. Most notably at the Los Angeles Times where the paper's publisher and its top editor Dean Baquet were ousted after publicly they defied calls by executives at Tribune Company to eliminate more newsroom positions.
In an effort to cut costs, the owners of many of the nation's newspapers are slashing the amount of money spent on reporting and laying off staff. The impact of these mass layoffs is expected to be widely felt.

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post recently wrote "If this erosion continues, it would be bad news for serious journalism, and good news for corrupt politicians."

Kurtz points out that journalists played key roles in exposing recent Washington scandals including those involving Jack Abramoff and Mark Foley.

On an almost daily basis reports have emerged about more newspaper layoffs. On Tuesday the executive editor of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie, Jr., announced plans to shrink the newsroom staff as part of a major transformation of the paper.

On Monday the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota said it would cut 40 full-time positions at the paper. Last week the new owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer forced out the paper's editor Amanda Bennett. Employees at the Inquirer fear the paper's new owners will layoff as much as much as a third of its newsroom staff.

In California, the owners of Los Angeles Daily News recently laid off the paper's publisher and 20 other employees. 101 jobs are being eliminated at the San Jose Mercury News. Another 111 at the Dallas Morning News. The Cleveland Plain Dealer plans to cut 17 percent of its staff.

But the most turmoil might be at the Los Angeles Times - the nation's fourth largest newspaper. Two months ago the paper's publisher Jeffrey Johnson and its top editor Dean Baquet publicly defied calls by executives at Tribune Company to eliminate more newsroom positions. Johnson was ousted in October. Baquet was forced out last week. A columnist for the trade magazine Editor & Publisher said about Baquet's firing "It is a sign that no editor who makes news first and big profits second is safe."

One of the most outspoken critics of the changes at the Los Angeles Times has been Henry Weinstein, the paper's legal affairs reporter. He has worked for the paper for 28 years. He was recently awarded the John Chancellor Award for Excellence by Columbia University's School of Journalism. He joins us in our firehouse studio.

* Henry Weinstein, legal affairs writer for the Los Angeles Times.

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http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/16/1451258

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