(NYPost) April 3, 2009 by Keith J. Kelly
NEW York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller equated the Gray Lady to apledge drive, claiming readers have offered to donate money to keep the Times alive.
Keller was speaking at Stanford University to dedicate a new building for the campus newspaper — an event he likened to a “ribbon-cutting” for “a new Pontiac dealership.”
The bombastic broadsheet editor went on to equate the keep-the-Times-alive movement to the cause of starving African refugees, saying, “Saving the New York Times now ranks with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause.”
Keller said he had little use for Web sites like Google and Drudge Report: “If you’re inclined to trust Google as your source for news — Google yourself.”
Keller’s comments, which were first reported on Web site Politico.com, come as the Times sat down with the Newspaper Guild Wednesday in their first serious bargaining session to figure out how to extract $4.5 million in savings from the newspaper company’s unionized workforce.
There are believed to be around 1,200 to 1,300 members of the Newspaper Guild working at The New York Times, and they are apparently not ready to accept the same pay cuts that their bosses did on April 1.
“Most of the [union] council believed that the company has not gone far enough in eliminating superfluous managers and exempts who hold few responsibilities, and that most of the burdens for corporate missteps have fallen on Guild members,” said a Guild newsletter fired off yesterday.
The company agreed to look at alternatives to a wage cut, but is standing firm on its need to shave $4.5 million in costs.
The company’s proposal also includes a stipulation that will make members take an additional 10 paid days off before the end of the year.
“The Times threatens to lay off 60 to 80 workers, mainly in the newsroom, if the request is not met,” warned the Guild, which is trying to come up with a solution that prevents layoffs.
For the first time in memory, the magazine death rate has surpassed the magazine birth rate.
The number of print magazines that folded in the first quarter reached 101 titles. By contrast, the number of print magazines that launched in the first quarter totaled 95.
The figures, from Mediafinder.com, are believed to mark the first time since statistics were kept that the number of magazines to fold beat out the number of magazines launched.
“That is definitely the trend,” said Tish Haygood , president of Oxbridge Communications, which owns Mediafinder.com, which publishes the Standard Periodical Director and the National Directory of Magazines.
“Other than entrepreneurs, people are definitely being more cautious with launches,” she added.
Despite the grim news, Mediafinder still finds a pretty healthy base of 16,942 magazines in its data, including 335 magazines that it says launched last year at an average of around 83 per quarter.
University of Mississippi Professor Samir Husni, who is chairman of the university’s journalism school, found that in 2005 there were 1,000 new titles launched every year.
What’s more, there is disagreement about exactly how many magazines have in fact been launched this year. Husni claims the launch number is far higher.
“There’s no shortage of new magazines coming on the marketplace,” he said. “We have at least 170 in the first quarter.”
By his count, there were 715 new mags launched last year, but his count includes one-shot magazines, or “everything that comes into the consumer marketplace.”
Condé Nast Digital, which consolidated several wings of its online operation in January, chopped another 30 positions, or 10 percent, of its nearly 300-person work force this week, sources said.
One former exec said of the digital group, “They probably have the biggest workforce of any publish ing company and they’ve never made a penny on digital, even though they’ve been at it 11 years.”Sarah Chubb, group president of Condé Nast Digital, declined to com ment on the precise number of cutbacks or the group’s profitability.
It’s been a bloody week at Condé Nast, which booted most of its receptionists on Tuesday and made some more cuts in its Condé Nast Media Group, which is now headed by Lou Cona after Richard “Mad Dog” Beckman moved over to Fairchild Fashion Group as CEO.
At least some people can still laugh.
As Forbes began a two-day round of job cuts that affected about 50 people, a humorous Web story began making the rounds, eventually ending up on the Huffington Post Web site.
“In a further sign of worsening conditions in the magazine industry, Forbes LLC today announced it would be selling one of the company’s namesake brothers,” said the posting.
“Pop always told us,” the posting quoted Chairman Steve Forbes as saying of his legendary father Malcolm, “that people are our greatest asset. Now the time has come to prove him right by monetizing one of my three brothers.”
After getting beseiged for two days by real-life layoff stories, spokeswoman Monie Begley said she welcomed the levity.
Just as we shouldn’t save the Times, we shouldn’t allow Princess Polosi to save the San Francisco Chronicle – one of the poorest newspapers in reporting, news coverage and journalism.