Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Beacon Job Bloodbath

This is print media related, but it's way too big for us to ignore here at OMW.

The long-rumored job cuts at the Akron Beacon Journal are becoming reality, and they are deep.

Beacon Journal business writer Gloria Irwin reports that some 40 of the newspaper's 160 newsroom employees are being laid off in a cost-cutting move by new ABJ owner Black Press.

New publisher Edward Moss had the unenviable task of wielding the job cutting knife. He tells Irwin that the Beacon's profits had dropped some 50 percent over the past four years.

WEWS/5 reporter Brad Harvey - who witnessed the story first hand from the station's Akron bureau inside the Beacon Journal building - lists names of some of the paper's staffers now being cut... including names such as Browns beat reporter Patrick McManamon, and writers Lisa Abraham and Julie Wallace.

OMW has heard other names on the cut list, including movie critic George Thomas, music/entertainment writer Malcolm X. Abram, and sportswriters Stephanie Storm and Tom Reed. (A special note goes out to Mr. Thomas, who dropped us a note a while ago telling us he's a regular OMW reader. Here's hoping some OMW Karma visits you soon, George!)

Other, non-newsroom cuts are in the offing...and Moss warns Irwin of possible future newsroom job cuts "if revenues do not improve".

While we don't really cover the print media, this is a major local media event. Let's hope that the cutbacks don't turn the Beacon Journal into one of those papers that mainly reprint wire copy...

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is just complete CRAP. I'm so sick of the big-whigs who breeze into a town and destroy a profitable entity, such as the ABJ, just because they're not making the "hand over fist" profits greedily feel they deserve.

Ever consider that your inferior product will not exactly be a selling-point with the public? You start chopping popular writers, and it's too easy to cancel the paper-think Beacon and just get our news online elsewhere.

People's lives are at stake here, Mr. Black, and your ownership group just callously whacks 40 jobs on an already-understaffed daily newspaper?? You're unbelievable, and your comeuppance will be a rude awakening, to be sure.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the previous poster. I have been a longtime subscriber of the ABJ that lives in Wooster. I point out my location because the ABJ isn't directly targeted at me. I subscribe because I appreciate the workers that the ABJ has.

I understand the need to cut some corners but perhaps this isn't the area. The ABJ is the 'big boy' of Mr Black's newspaper chain. One would assume that the other papers would utilize our writers for wire articles.

Terrible move. I don't know Mr. Black could possibly put a positive spin on this to ABJ loyalists.

As OMW said, I hope the ABJ doesn't become another 'wire' article paper. If it does I see no reason to retain my subscription.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to the soon-to-be-ex-staffers of the ABJ.

As one who used to work for the Beacon's main competition in Stark County, I actually maintained my Beacon subscription during the years I worked there, because, frankly, the Beacon was a better paper. Their writers actually knew how to write, and they did their jobs well.

This is sad to see. Throughout the last six years the ABJ has been the incredible shrinking paper, yet it still managed to turn out a decent product. I think that'll be ending soon.

I breathed a sigh of relief when the parent company of my former employers declined to make an offer for the paper. I thought they'd destroy it. Turns out it's happening anyway.

A number of years ago (circa 2000-2001), the ABJ made a more concerted effort to cover things here in Stark County, and it failed miserably. The joke in our office was that their slogan should be "We care about Stark County, provided you live North of 38th Street, West of Market Avenue, and East of Massillon." Given the final sentence of the linked article, their new slogan appears to be "If you don't live in Summit County, you can go to hell." Soon enough, they'll probably chase off those readers as well. A sad day, indeed.

Anonymous said...

The "lay-off" of Pat Macmanamon is a travisty to the newsreaders and particularly Browns fans in northern Ohio. I had the honor of meeting Pat and someone of his stature as a newsgatherer, writer and contributor to the public at large should be a valuable commodity to any paper. It is unfortunate that the powers that be at ABJ have such little forsight as to not understand what a gold mine someone such as he is. With his experience, connections and insight, his humorous and reliable writing, anyone worth their weight would find a way to keep him on.

Anonymous said...

Please!

The Beacon has been declining in quality for years. Yes there are several great writers on staff, and some will remain.

The problem with the ABJ has been the publishers.

Wire? Take a look now, the beacon is mostly wire copy rewritten by a staff writer.

one who knows said...

I'm a former "ink-stained wretch" who has seen this particular business totally degenerate over the past two decades. While this whole think stinks, it is no big surprise.

I am a subscriber to McManamon's weekly Browns e-newsletter, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also once worked with Tom Reed, though briefly, and found him to be an outstanding professional.

I with both -- actually ALL of them -- the best of luck in finding new positions. I would suspect that there are newspapers out there who are willing to snap them up pretty quickly.

Brady said...

I just called George Thomas and mentioned his name was being bandied about here at OMW as a possible "lay-off-ee" and expressed my support for the guy. I've discussed/debated with him a couple of things he's written or blogged about over the past few years, and he's always been pleasant, smart, and professional..which is a rare find when it comes to dealing with ANYone these days. I've found I enjoy reading Malcolm X Abram's reviews and commentary as well..he's much better than either Trendy Glen Gamboa or Little Chuckie Klosterman ever were. I wish them both the best of luck in keeping employment.

Anonymous said...

I think you're all missing the point... newspapers are DYING. Advertising revenues are down across the board in almost every market. Heck, they're more irrelevant anymore than, say, radio. We're going to see more and more of this as papers struggle to maintain subscribers and revenues.

Heck, I know of one major real estate chain that stopped buying ads in newspapers because they're not seeing enough return on their investment - opting instead to use those dollars to upgrade their online presence.

Good or bad, it's a whole new world in media.

VODood said...

The Toledo Blade is having issues with some of it's unions. They've locked out two already.

Unions? In print? Must be Ohio, lol!

Anonymous said...

Newspapers may be dying, but the ABJ still turns a healthy double-digit profit. Guess they need to have a higher double-digit profit!

Anonymous said...

The ABJ may be turning a double-digit profit... but you can bet that when the paper was sold that profit percentage was used as a factor to determine what price tag to put on the business. If you're the new publisher, you want to recoup that.