Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here Comes 2009

I got this e-mail from a longtime friend of mine who is a GM in a Top 20 Market:
"2009 is going to be terrible for the industry as a whole. I think you will see more of the cuts that most groups have announced. The word is that FOX and Univision are waiting until the holidays are past to do their trimming. All we can do is hold on for dear life and hope that 2010 comes very quickly."

Here's to 2010!

I, too, have a feeling that 2009 will bring more of what we saw in 2008 as far as the broadcast and newspaper industry is concerned. More and more experienced journalist will either be fired or accept "buyout" deals as payrolls undergo shrinkage. More and more "behind the camera" types will also be done away with through a combination of technological advances and payroll cuts. Big time news anchors, especially on the local level, will be a thing of the past. We'll see more single anchors along with anchors who report extensively and they'll be making less money. In at least the short term, at more and more stations and newspapers, the trusted and seasoned reporters and meteorologists will be out, in favor of lesser experienced, cheaper labor.

In the bigger picture, I expect to see a bit of a fire sale on television stations and newspapers. They're not worth near what they were only a few years ago. It's a buyers market for many stations, with over-leveraged owners willing to cut their losses, at any price. Newspapers, especially are seeing their value limbo under a line few would have thought possible ten years ago. They can still make money, but they have to change everything, including and especially their business models. Maybe they should work more on their website and web sales.

To quote University of Memphis journalism professor Joe Hayden, "I dread the quality of newscasts cobbled together by skeleton crews," he said. "Forcing fewer people to do more work is always a disastrous recipe for journalism."

His conclusion: "I think the market will eventually compel newsrooms to either emphasize quality or disappear. The phase we're going through now isn't a pretty one."

At least one of the more respected columnist has an even dimmer view than me about the coming year for the media.

I think we'll eventually come out of this with more multitaskers (one man bands) as far as journalism is concerned. That's not such a bad thing in some aspects. That's how I started my career at WBBJ in the early 80s, and I did some of my best work. That will help weed out the pretenders, as viewers eventually flock to those who know their craft, over those who simply love "being on teevee." In some ways, it's just like the economy in general, we'll see the quality "bottom out," before it begins improving. Quality and excellence will eventually separate the pros from the wannabes, although I think everyone in the media, especially on the local level, will draw a smaller paycheck than in the glory years of television.

1 comment:

hulagirlatheart said...

I dread the results that we are going to see. Television news has already sunk to lows I thought I'd never see. It's going to shoot itself in the foot if it's not careful.