Thursday, September 28, 2006

LA Times - To cut or not to cut

LA Times has been in the news a lot lately. Its editor and publisher refused to carry out staff cuts ordered by the parent company. The Tribune company (which owns LA times) had gone in for budget and staff cuts just last year cutting hundreds of jobs. This time, however, the editor as well as publisher of LA Times stood their ground and simply refused to go along with the management. What's more, they even said so publicly; in their own newspaper to be precise. There is a very interesting article in the NY Times titled The Newspaper Publisher Who Said No to More Cuts .
While it is heartening to see an editor stand up for his newspaper, I wonder what the practical solution to this problem would be. The company is obviously going through some financial trouble that prompted them to take this decision. However, the editor's fears that further staff cuts will affect the quality of the newspaper is not unfounded either. So, in these difficult times for newspapers, what is the ideal response?
Should the company focus on boosting its circulation? Maybe trying to boost its online advertising revenues is a better option. But what would be a good strategy to do that? Should it alter its content to make it more appealing to the "market"? But there is a danger that the newspaper will completely lose its character by doing so.
Maybe the best option is patience. Newspaper owners should accept that the newspaper industry is going through a tough phase. Profit margins will fall while the newspaper makes the complete transition from the print version to the online version. As trends suggest, online advertising will pick up over time and help newspapers become profitable again.
Hopefully, newspapers will have the strength to survive so that they can see that day.


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