Thursday, July 12, 2012

My rather angry reply to 2 blog posts in defense of the moves by Advance Publications; when creating a 'digital-focused' execs start with layoffs, new initiatives come later

It took me longer than usual to write a comment on the GigaOM site this morning. Maybe it is the drugs I've been taking to get rid of this mess in my lungs, or maybe it is my sometimes obvious anger that I feel towards those who are today promoted as our media gurus.

The comment sparked by the commentary written by Mathew Ingram that appeared on the GigaOM website yesterday afternoon.

Under the headline Why we should defend the changes at the Times-Picayune Ingram defends Advance Publications from its critics. Advance announced in May that it would cut the print schedules at its papers in Louisiana and Alabama, and there would be the inevitable staff reductions.

Like most newspapers companies, the moves by the Newhouse family that own the papers was made under the guise of creating a "new digital-focused" company. And, as usual, no new digital initiatives were announced.

Yesterday, John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, wrote a defense of the Advance moves on his own blog. His piece is headlined In Defense of the Times-Picayune and in it he admits that Advance may not have handled the announcement well but defends their actions believing that the company is moving forward with the moves. Forward to what is not explained, however. (And it can't be because, repeat after me, no new digital initiatives were announced.)

John Paton is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto.

Ingram, another Ryerson graduate, who worked as a business and technology writer at The Globe and Mail, was pretty quick to pick up on the Paton blog post, making one wonder who else got the memo.

Anyways, here is what I wrote:

Matthew, you might as well have cut and paste John Paton’s blog post here. I would call this more an aggregated commentary than one containing any original ideas.

What exactly are you defending here? That the moves by Advance are justifiable because, well, who knows what to do? That “no one is sure of the right answer.”

A layoff is not a digital initiative. Neither is rearranging the chairs in the newsroom nor changing the name of a company.

When Advance, or Digital First Media, start creating innovative, must-read digital products that attract readers and change the way advertisers look at these companies, then I will finally find something to defend in their their “digital initiatives.”
Notice that I immediately misspelled Mathew's name? I've done that before and he corrected me on it pretty quickly. This time I beat him to it.