Newsrooms hemorrhage more jobs than ever

Further to my earlier point that preparing today’s j-school students (undergrad and grad) mainly to work within mainstream news orgs does them an increasingly grave disservice, Rick Edmonds noted on Poynter.org today:

2,400 Newsroom Jobs Lost: Biggest Dip in 30 Years

WASHINGTON — After years of mildly reassuring numbers tracking the size of newspaper newsroom staffs, the latest American Society of Newspapers Editors’ annual census leads with a bombshell. Fulltime professional news staffs fell by 2,400 last year, a drop of 4.4% to a total of 52,600.

It was an even larger decrease than the 2,000 drop-off in the recession year of 2001. Since the census is completed as of the end of 2007, the tabulation does not include hundreds more buyouts and layoffs already imposed in 2008.

Still think it’s fair to focus almost exclusively on preparing tomorrow’s journalists to work in yesterday’s media, while acting like the business of news isn’t really their business?

Feeds: Getting Pretty Mainstream

David Chief, via Flickr (CC license)
How many people use feeds? Probably a whole lot more than you think.

In my Aug. 21 post, It’s not about your site anymore, I talked about how web sites are becoming less important for online content distribution as RSS feeds (with their many uses) are enjoying increasingly mainstream usage.

Basically, the trend is that more people are more interested in getting the content they want delivered to them wherever they prefer to be, rather than having to make a special “trip” online to someone’s site. And they’re using lots of popular tools to do just that.

Reader Steve Sergeant (of The Wildebeat, a great podcast) responded with a perspective I’ve heard often. He said:

“I agree that this is true for the bleeding-edge, early adopters, among which I count myself. …But in my experience, the average news consumer and person with a non-media job often has no idea what an RSS reader or aggregator is. Sure, an adventuresome few have discovered iTunes for podcasts or some server-side aggregator, like My Yahoo.”

While it may be true that most net users aren’t yet using feeds (or perhaps most of them are, I just haven’t found current statistics on that), earlier research and current trends indicate that feeds may have already grown far more popular than conventional wisdom might lead us to assume.

Furthermore, I think general ignorance of the key role that feeds play in supporting many of today’s most popular online-media services and experiences may be causing significant harm — especially to journalism, and thus to democracy and other forms of self-determination.

Sounds extreme, I know. Hear me out…

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