The Tallahassee Democrat reported last week that it would lay off eight people, an announcement that's been disturbingly common in newsrooms across the country. This is what the publisher had to say:
"To maintain the financial health of our business and to ensure we remain positioned for the future and the inevitable rebound of the economy and our business, we must be proactive in responding to negative conditions. Unfortunately, that means we are going to have to reduce positions.”
Here's what I don't understand: How can you "remain positioned for the future" if you have fewer people to write, report and edit the news? It's not like the paper has a fat staff or tons of extra resources. I know the economy sucks and that my beloved newspaper industry is tanking right now, but these canned explanations are starting to wear thin. Just once, I wish some newspaper executive would resist the urge to sugarcoat the situation and say, "The reality is that we're not going to be able to give our readers as much as we did before. The loss of staff will inevitably affect the quality and content of our newspaper, which we deeply regret."
I expect these kind of corporate talking points from widget-making conglomerates, but not from newspaper companies. I'm naive that way.