Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Short takes: Deseret News to severely cut back newsroom; UK music magazine The Wire releases app

The Deseret News, the 72,000 circulation daily newspaper owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced today that it was cutting 58 full-time and 29 part-time positions, representing nearly half of the current newsroom staff.

The move was blamed on, drum roll please, the Internet.
Writing on the newspaper's website, Jay Evensen, the editorial page editor, writes that "the problem is the Internet has sapped ad sales. It has put a big dent in the business model that has sustained newspapers for more than two centuries, and that's a permanent change."

"As tough as it is to say goodbye to good people, the truth is the newspaper faced a choice familiar to papers everywhere — either cut people and reinvent yourself or cease to exist. And this paper definitely intends to exist, and thrive, for a long time. It's also reinventing itself unlike any other paper," Evensen wrote.

The newspaper said it was establishing a five-part plan to cope with the changing reality of newspaper publishing. Part of the plan includes integrating its newsroom with its broadcast property KSL, moving its news staff to Triad Center "to promote greater synergy in coverage and operations," said Clark Gilbert, Deseret News CEO and president.

The second item, written without a sense of irony, was that the newspaper would concentrate writing "on relevant issues audiences care most about." (It's hard to believe that one made it by the editors.) The third item, in line with this editorial change, will be to create a new editorial advisory board.

The paper will also begin begin an aggregation and curation strategy, what the paper is calling Deseret Connect, where outside writers are brought on board to provide copy and expertise.

Finally, the paper promises to create a "cutting edge digital team", though no details were revealed.

Deseret Digital Media currently has three iPhone app in the iTunes app store, none for the Deseret News, and the company has yet to release a tablet app.

One should add that while the staff reductions were blamed on sagging ad sales caused by the Internet, no changes in advertising staffing or strategy were announced today, probably the result of its JOA -- though I would think that Deseret Digital Media lies outside the JOA's area of influence.

Update: Publisher Jim Wall has stepped down, the paper announced at 2PM MDT. Two minutes before that the paper announced that the editor, Joe Cannon, would be leaving, as well.

The Wire, the London based music magazine, has partnered with Exact Editions to release a replica edition of its magazine. The app is universal.

Exact Editions, the developer, does what it likes to call freemium apps, apps that are free to download and offer the read a sample of the magazine before requiring the reader to purchase full access to the issue.
The Wire comes with a £4 cover price, and the app offers readers no discount, costing U.S. buyers $5.99 for full access.
My guess is that some readers will be very happy to have access to the magazine, in whatever form it takes. As usual, as someone who does not like replica editions, my complaint is that reading a replica edition is a very un-tablet experience. Besides the lack of interactive content, the app does not offer separate portrait and landscape layouts, expect (ironically) on the purchase page.

Posts will be light for the next two days while I conduct several interviews with digital personnel at several newspaper companies. Should be interesting conversations.