Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An ugly scene from the companies we rely on for significant information

It’s not a pretty scene these days when it comes to the companies that we rely upon (even if we try to ignore that reality) for the information we have about our society.

How many people are going to think that shirt is worth more than the information contained in the news boxes? Photograph by Gregory Tejeda
The Tribune Co. issued financial reports about the 240 jobs it cut companywide during the summer quarter of 2013 (a fact that the Chicago Sun-Times felt compelled to tell us), while Tribune corporate-types admit there will be more cuts early in 2014.

THOSE ARE GOING to hit the Chicago Tribune itself, including the editorial staff – which can only claim to be the largest newspaper staff in the Midwestern U.S. because everybody else has also cut themselves in cost-saving measures.

Not that the Sun-Times (which usually is the best source for information about Tribune Co. that they don’t want told) ought to gloat.

There have been hints that the Sun-Times will engage in similar cuts to its editorial staff early next year – hints taken seriously enough by the Chicago Newspaper Guild that they have already threatened to file a lawsuit against the company on the grounds that the staff has already been whittled down to the bone marrow.

Then, there was the report this week from Robert Feder (the one-time Sun-Times media writer who now operates his own weblog loosely affiliated with the Tribune).

A chance to rebuild itself?
THE SUN-TIMES IS so anxious to come up with cash to help prop up the overall company that they’re considering selling off at least some of the suburban newspapers that they purchased in recent decades to strengthen the company. 
According to Feder, the Herald-News of Joliet is likely to be the first put on the auction block. Which might be for the best in Will County (the part of suburbia that is growing faster than any other part of the metro area).

Soon to be No. 1 again (even if it already was)
If they could get an ownership willing to invest in the publication and its website and other potential information distribution forums that we can’t even dream about yet, the Herald-News could again become a significant means of getting quality information about Joliet and its surrounding communities.
Because now, the Herald-News produces a few stories that also appear in the Sun-Times and its other suburban papers. Which is why it’s not totally ridiculous to think of the publications as one multiple-edition newspaper – the basis of all the claims in recent years that the Sun-Times actually has a larger daily circulation than the Tribune.

ACTUALLY, IT MUST be bad for the Sun-Times these days. Because if they’re willing to give up the claim to the Herald-News circulation as being part of their own, it means that their collective circulation is likely to drop behind that of the Tribune.

They won’t be able to make the “We’re Number One!” claim that anybody with sense knew was ridiculous. They’ll go back to being Number Two.

Although considering how scrawny the Sun-Times has become despite having all these other publications on hand to prop it up, it probably doesn’t matter.

This whole situation could turn out to be beneficial to Joliet, if it means they get a better news source. Although I wonder if the whole Sun-Times experience has scraped them dry of any assets that could be used to bolster themselves.

ALL IN ALL, not a pleasant business situation – one in which some people take a little too much pleasure. Such as the Illinois Review – an ideologically-based website that seemed Tuesday to take a little too much pleasure in these facts.

Personally, it reinforces my belief that most people aren’t going to appreciate what is being lost until it’s gone and cannot be recovered.

I know too many people who claim they NEVER read the Chicago papers anymore. Then, when they show me the websites that they say have “replaced” the papers, they’re loaded up with stories that originated in the Sun-Times and Tribune.

I’m skeptical the Illinois Review could come up with stories of its own if it didn’t have other peoples’ work to feed off of. There’s only so much that one can get without a real-live full-time reporter doing their work – especially if you’re of the type whose objections to “liberal media” (a concept that really is a myth) are that they’re not spinning everything to your limited viewpoint!


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