Blowing Up The Tampa Trib

Layoffs and a major reorganization are happening at The Tampa Tribune. Jeff Jarvis blogged about it at his site. An intern there recorded the newsroom announcement and comments were posted at Mindy McAdams site.

Here is some of what she had to say:

Do you know about the reorganization they’re doing here at the Trib? They herded everyone into a conference room today to tell them about 21 layoffs that will happen tomorrow (effective immediately) and a new reorganization of the newsroom’s hierarchy. [Update: The newspaper said it will lay off 11 newsroom staffers this week and eliminate 10 other news jobs “by early fall.”]
It’s going to be like this:
Managing editors
5-6 audience editors — keep in touch with what the print, TV, online audiences want/need
5 sections of reporting (all the reporters for print, TV and Web are mashed up together in these groups):
Deadline — for breaking/daily news
Data — specifically for database stuff
Watchdog — for investigative reporting
Personal journalism — stuff for people’s every day lives like weather, health, entertainment
Grassroots — citizen journalism

Outside of these groups are three “finishing” groups for print, TV and online to determine what stories should be covered and with what medium.
All the reporters will be trained in gathering news for online in case there’s a need for it. They’ll be training them on the go. The focus will now be on immediacy and using mediums appropriately. The print product is going to be more enterprise and in-depth, the Web is for breaking news, etc.

How unfortunate newspapers didn’t wake up and see the future while they were still largely profitable. Even minor changes in print products often lead to significant circulation adjustments. If the new product works, over time, then the audience comes back. There is no time now, nor margin for error. Newspapers are showing up late to their own wake and asking someone to please change the suit on the corpse.

I applaud what they are trying to do at the Tampa Trib. Their coverage concept looks pretty good. I guess we will all be watching to see if it works out. But the hard choices and the radical changes should have been happening 5 years ago. Guys like Tim Porter were talking about blowing up the newsroom an internet age ago (Jan. 18, 2005 for the linked post). Tim left the San Francisco Examiner as an AME to try and wake up newspapers to the coming changes. Now when people are finally ready to listen to the ideas he has been voicing since 2001, he is freelancing as a photographer and writer. His thoughtful blog on new directions for newspaper journalism has been mothballed. The mortgage must be paid.

Where were the balls in newsrooms when they were needed? Why weren’t newspapers making these tough decisions when they had the ability to choose? So now you got out of that ratty, old three-piecer and into a Hawaiian shirt and Dockers. You’re still dead.

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2 Responses to “Blowing Up The Tampa Trib”

  1. July 10, 2008 at 4:27 am

    And you’re still clueless. You offer no suggestions, only “Why didn’t they do this before?” hindsight.

    And you are calling others curmudgeons. Tsk, tsk.

  2. 2 blackblueandredallover
    July 10, 2008 at 4:54 am

    I have met the enemy and he is you. Bite me, Mr Gumby.

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