Job cuts at NYT and Wash Post. For the second day in a row, there’s been more job losses at American papers, this time at the two most prestigious companies: the New York Times Co and the Washington Post Company. The New York Times Co laid off 100 employees overnight and and cut salaries for the rest of the year by between 2.5% and 5%. Management also warned that might cut newsroom jobs at its Times if the union doesn’t agree to a similar pay cut.

The Times said nonunion employees at the New York Times Media Group, The Boston Globe and other units will take a 5% cut, at other parts of the business, the cut would be 2.5%.

The company said 100 employees from its business operation will lose their jobs re losing their jobs. Fifteen union members were sacked.

Reuters reported that the management urged union members to agree to the pay cut, as well as an increased amount of vacation time. A letter signed by several executives, including top New York Times Editor Bill Keller said union participation in New York could help avoid the possibility of newsroom layoffs.

And the Washington Post Company no sign of a number, but the paper said it wants to cut staff numbers by way of volunteers for redundancies (buyouts, as they call it in the US).

A memo to staff from Publisher Katherine Weymouth followed a letter the day before from Don Graham, the company’s CEO, in which he said the Post newspaper “will lose substantial money” this year after an “embarrassing” 2008. — Glenn Dyer

ACMA in talks of news quality . The media regulator, ACMA has become so-concerned at the way commercial TV current affairs programs are breaching the voluntary code of practice controlling TV broadcasting, that it has started formal talks with the networks on the situation.

In a single paragraph in a finding against the Nine Network’s A Current Affair program, released this week, ACMA said that it would not take “any action in isolation in relation to this matter” because it “is currently in discussions with industry generally around current affairs programs and compliance with the code”.

According to TV industry sources, ACMA chairman Chris Chapman (he used to work at Seven years ago) doesn’t like TV current affairs programs, especially the 6.30pm ones on Nine and Seven. Mr Chapman wants them to become more “respectable”, in the worlds of one TV executive.

Chapman believes the TV Code of Practice is out of date, but so far he and ACMA haven’t proposed a replacement standard, other than the present one to be correct. Nine News and ACA have been the subject of a number of complaints in the past three years as Seven News and Today Tonight have also been complained about, but the majority of complaints are about material on the Nine programs, or the way the complaints were handled.

Even so, there are far more complaints about material broadcast in programs other than News and Current Affairs. In fact, the complaints about classification and content in Nine’s Underbelly and the various Ramsay cooking programs were far greater in number than for Nine News and ACA . Non-news programs on Seven, Ten, the ABC and SBS are also more complained about than news and current affairs prorgams. — Glenn Dyer

CBC staff decimated. And in Canada, 800 jobs are going at the country’s Government owned national broadcaster. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (their ABC) says close to 10% of its 9,850 employees will be going.

Like the ABC, CBC is funded by Government: around $C1 billion a year. That’s roughly what the ABC receives here in dollar terms from the Australian Government. Unlike the ABC, CBC is allowed to take ads and generates around $C600 million a year from its commercial activities, according to Canadian media reports.

CBC says it expects a $C171 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year. It blamed weak ad markets, higher costs, a base-salary financing shortfall and an old infrastructure.

It says it hopes the Federal government would OK the sale of around $C125 million of assets; it will have to cut 400 employees from its CBC’s English-language service, 335 from the the French-language arm and 70 from other parts of its operations.

CBC is cutting back regional radio and TV programming and make cuts in news, drama, music and current affairs. It will also cut executive pay by around 20%, freezing hiring and cutting all other spending. The cuts to staffing in CBC’s English Services will see up to 80 positions going from its news division and another 313 from sports, entertainment, current affairs, sales and support — Glenn Dyer

New ABC Radio Director Kate Dundas writes to staff:

As you know I have been appointed to the Director Radio position. Those who know me know how much I value the services we provide and the richness of the content with which we engage our many audiences. I consider it a genuine privilege to be able to work again in a part of the ABC which is so important to millions of Australians and which is also comprised of so many talented and creative people.

Earlier in the year Mark Scott wrote to everyone about a review of Radio. I wanted to sketch in a few more details and share my thoughts on the emphases I wish to take as we create plans to put Radio on the best possible footing for the future.

Although radio programming will remain the primary source of our content, I see one of my key tasks as being to work with you to fully integrate our online activities, digital radio services and rich media production into the overall output of the Radio division. This is a big challenge, but one that needs to be tackled.

In doing this I’m determined to establish more forums where we can discuss and progress ideas for programs and projects in a meaningful and open way across program and content areas in Radio and in collaboration with other divisions in the ABC. I would like to be able to set up a robust process which will encourage, assess and help cultivate good ideas for content development.

As you know we will be broadcasting the 5 networks (national and local radio) and our three internet dig services into the major capital cities on digital radio from 1 July this year. Funding for new digital radio content is incorporated in the ABC’s budget submission, the outcome of which we won’t know until budget night. Depending on this and the service/spectrum mix we will be able to have an additional 3-4 new services. I believe that we need to do some focused work around audience gaps, our strategic priorities in seeking new audiences and the kind of content we are best placed to provide and how we might resource it. This work needs to draw on ideas from across the division and I will be talking with the Radio Executive and others to see how we might best do this to make sure we have innovative, affordable and practical strategies for new service development.

I’m also keen to ensure we train and develop staff right across the division – both in craft skills for now and the future and in other ways which will allow us to take full advantage of the opportunities and challenges coming our way. As such I’ve asked Vanessa Macbean, Head Strategy, Communications and People Development in Radio to put together a small group to review our current capabilities in this area and recommend a strategy to take us forward. The group will include expertise from People and Learning Division.

In order to pursue any or all of these goals, we need to ensure we have identified resources which can make it happen. I have asked the Director of Business Services to help us critically assess where and how we currently allocate our resources so that we can make good, informed decisions about priorities.

I will also be looking at whether we are organised in the most optimal way at a senior management level to ensure that audiences remain central to everything we do, that our culture, values and work practices are open and supportive, that we are agile in responding to new opportunities and that the quality of our work and our editorial standards are paramount.

I really do look forward to working with all of you and am thrilled to have this opportunity.

Kate Dundas

Director ABC Radio

Brisbane Times unveils “new look” — the Smage‘s. The Brisbane Times put out a press release yesterday touting their “new look” — by which they seem to mean “identical to the SMH and The Age“:

To augment brisbanetimes.com.au‘s focus on local breaking news, the site now shares a content distribution system with smh.com.au , theage.com.au and WAtoday.com.au , which allows it to publish breaking news in a matter of seconds.

The new-look site, developed following extensive customer feedback, also includes a new section for video news on the homepage, an expanded entertainment and lifestyle section, and the addition of Business Day for comprehensive business news and views as it happens.

Fairfax Digital General Manager – Media, Jane Huxley comments, “This redesign is the first in a series of enhancements we are making to brisbanetimes.com.au this year.

“Beyond promoting further brand consistency across the Fairfax Digital network, the redesign is part of Fairfax Digital’s strategy to strengthen our video and mobile offerings, for the benefit of our viewers and advertisers alike.”

 

Maybe they meant “brand new” like when your mum bought you op-shop clothes and would say, “But they’re new to you“?

Is Penberthy punching above his weight? David Penberthy, former editor of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, re-emerges after a four-month absence with a new column in The Australian tomorrow. It’s a prelude to News Limited’s secret-squirrel cross-platform media venture (online, print and TV) which is now scheduled to go live in May rather than April as originally planned.

Both the column and the new brand will be called “The Punch”. Punchy presentation, y’see. But with British magazine Punch still remembered as one of the finest satirical publications of all time, that’s a bold title.

In November, Penberthy said the new project’s focus would be politics, both federal and state. “We are unashamedly talking to middle Australia, not writing for people who go to dinner parties in Toorak or Vaucluse. It will be more like a barbecue stopper,” he said then.

“The Punch” will include live Twitter streams from writers including Penberthy himself — another bold move, since Crikey understands that Penberthy only recently discovered that a CD burner needs a computer to go with it. — Stilgherrian

P-rn vs. news. A friend introduced me to www.alexa.com the other day, the website that tracks internet traffic. After interesting finds in the ‘country’ section, I played around with the graph feature. As p-rn sites were very popular around the world, I plotted the most popular three ( youp-rn , redtube , p-rnhub ) on a time graph and noticed they are cyclical over a week:

I noticed that news was also consumed in a cyclical pattern over a week.

Graphing the two against eachother, an interesting pattern emerges. News, in this case CNN, peaks early in the week but drops off by Wednesday/Thursday. P-rn, on the other hand, is lowest on Mondays and Tuesdays, but picks up peaking around Saturday (the vertical lines are Mondays):

A couple of observations can be made. People are more interested in news and current affairs at the start of the work week, but their interest wanes over the week. P-rn consumption, although more constant than news, increases towards the end of the work week. The two are cyclical over the week, but in antiphase (180 degrees out of phase) suggesting that interest in the world is replaced by interest in the self. In the case of CNN vs youp-rn , although CNN usually has a greater reach, when it troughs, p-rn becomes more popular. — Crikey reader Thomas Barker

Draft laws threaten freedom of the press in East Timor. A set of media laws drafted for the tiny Asian nation of East Timor has been criticised by local journalists, who say the proposed legislation could undermine the free press in the young country. Provisions to set up a system of licensing reporters and a media council with the power to revoke licences and fine journalists would stifle independent reporting deemed vital to Timor’s nascent democracy, they say. — Brisbane Times

The unproductive Productivity Commission. The Productivity Commission is investigating whether or under what conditions imported editions of English-language books should be allowed to compete with Australian editions. There are two main reasons for the inquiry having been set up: the suspicion that a broad range of overseas editions are not being made available to local consumers quickly enough; and a belief that overseas editions are or would be cheaper than local versions. — Henry Rosenbloom

Most eligible bachelor lawyers line up for the gong. Cleo magazine invited ‘attractive’ lawyers to nominate themselves for the magazine’s 50 most eligible bachelors feature, and nominations have subsequently rolled in. Queensland crown prosecutor Kris Ashen is one of them and, according to Cleo ‘s website, is 30-years-old, an aquarius and loves a good red wine. His favourite TV show is Rush and cannot understand why girls date men who “treat them like crap”. — ALB Legal News

Christian Science Monitor publishes its final daily print edition. As of today, we are shedding print on a daily basis. But the Monitor itself – the century-old journalistic enterprise chronicling the world’s challenges and progress – is becoming more daily than ever. And with the launch of our new weekly print edition, the Monitor is becoming more vital than ever. No longer inked on wood pulp, no longer trucked from printing plants to your mailbox, no longer published only five days a week, the daily Monitor is now a dynamic online newspaper on all days. — Christian Science Monitor

An insider’s view: the strange final days of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer . The subject line of the e-mail: “Hearst expects to announce a decision regarding the P-I at some point next week.” The body: blank. We were actually relieved. Finally, we knew something. For the next three days at least, we could concentrate on putting out a paper. It was business as usual—as it had been for most of the 60 days before, in part, perhaps, because the staff was left entirely out of the loop on what was going on. — Former P-I employee Joseph Tartakoff,  paidContent

Celebrity magazines may never recover from recession. The rise of “feisty online alternatives” and the recession have sped up the decline of some celebrity media franchises, according to [a report by DeSilva + Phillips]. But “timid magazine management” is also to blame. As a result, celebrity magazines “have the most to lose” in terms of audience and revenues—”and they will certainly lose the most in the years ahead.” — Folio