NEW YORK: Announcements by two major newspaper companies last week further illustrated an alarming trend in newspaper workforce management.
The New York Times Co. announced that it would lay off 500 employees, a six?to-nine-month process that will begin in October. Approximately 45 in The New York Times newsroom and 35 at the Boston Globe's newsroom will lose their jobs.
The same day, Knight Ridder announced it would cut 100 employees in Philadelphia: 75 at The Philadelphia Inquirer and 25 at The Philadelphia Daily News.
Colby Atwood, VP of media research firm Borrell Associates, said the moves are just the beginning of what will be a long period of transition for the newspaper industry.
"I think we can expect to see more consolidations and reductions in workforces over the next 10 to15 years as the industry adjusts to having a smaller part in the news distribution and advertising business."
Atwood said a reduction in workforce would affect newspapers' ability to gather news and the type of coverage.
"It will force the New York Times, as it will other newspapers, to focus on the types of news that are most relevant to their readers and their markers," he said.
Although such changes require extra work on the part of PR practitioners, Ted Birkhahn, partner at Peppercom, said it could be a good thing, especially if PR practitioners take on the role of educating reporters who may have taken on new beats.
"If you're dealing with a reporter who's looking to you for that education, that could put your client in a really good position," he said.