Speaking of NPR . . .

torbee

HR King
Gold Member
A former reporter of mine broke this story and it’s excellent reporting. And very depressing about the state of journalism.


U.S.' largest newspaper owner cuts Iowa staff, leaving small papers' futures in question​

Iowa Public Radio | By Zachary Oren Smith


While The Hawk Eye got the worst of the Gannett’s Plains region; this month's layoffs were part of a larger response to right its financial ship after a bad second quarter.​

Laigha Anderson wanted to be her own person. Coming from a big family in Leavenworth, Kansas, that was hardly a given. She had to get out.
“I didn’t want to be so-and-so’s daughter or so-and-so’s cousin,” she said. “I just wanted to be Laigha.”


In December 2018, she graduated from the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas, and six weeks later, she moved from the place she’d spent her young life to Burlington, Iowa. A small newspaper — “Iowa’s oldest” — hired her on to cover local government.

In February 2019, then-general manager of The Hawk Eye Sean Lewis wrote a columntelling the community to welcome her to Burlington. He explained that the paper was aware of newspaper delivery issues, but things were changing for the better: Anderson was a part of a slate of hires that were “good news” for the local paper.

“We have made headway over the last few months at The Hawk Eye because of the hard work and integrity of the staff here. Some are new and some have been here most of their adult lives. They all share a common goal of restoring The Hawk Eye to the community newspaper everyone wants and deserves.”

Anderson got to work. A few months after Lewis’ column, her analysis at The Hawk Eye found that Des Moines County had double-taxed the City of Burlington for between $1.23 and $1.52 million over 10 years. After the story ran, she said people would make jokes about the money she saved them on their property taxes.

And there’s a lot like this: how a missed assessment drove up the property evaluation of a shed by $35,000 or her award-winning coverage of the murder trial of Diavontae Davis.

It wasn’t all hard-hitting stories. There was the threat of layoffs, the daily grind of public meetings and the copy deadlines that only seemed to move earlier.


“I was working so fast,” she said. “I felt this pressure of if I don't write this, then people will say, 'There’s no local news.’ ”

On Friday, Aug. 12, Anderson took a bus from Burlington to Iowa City for a doctor’s appointment. In addition to being in a wheelchair, she manages multiple chronic illnesses that leave her with bouts of intense nausea.

For the day, she had two appointments scheduled. There was her doctor and the executive editor of The Des Moines Register, her boss’ boss. She knew she was getting laid off.

Newspapers cut across the Plains

That Friday, Carol Hunter, the executive editor at the Des Moines Register, called an “All Iowa” meeting to tell staff about the layoffs. This didn’t come as a surprise as they’d been warned via email and by industry news sites like Poynter that layoffs were coming.

The Burlington Hawk Eye and The Des Moines Register are part of Gannett/USA Today Network, the nation’s largest chain of newspapers. This month, the company reported a disheartening second quarter. Revenue was down. Costs were up. And a reduction program was implemented.

“We are not satisfied with our overall performance in the second quarter and have quickly responded to this rapidly deteriorating economic environment by implementing a significant cost reduction program that we believe will better position the company to realize its long-term growth goals... The changes and reductions to our cost structure are focused primarily on our legacy print business,” the company reported.

In addition to leading the Register, Hunter is the regional editor for Gannett/USA Today Network newspapers in the Plains Region. And on that day, she was tasked with explaining where the cuts had happened.

“The marching orders” she explained were to try and protect resources as much as possible at the top-40 newspapers, big metro papers like the Register and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (even though one position was closed at the Leader). She said, “In order to meet the cut I needed to make, (there) were these very deep cuts at some of the smaller papers.”

She rattled them off: There were two layoffs at the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. Two more at the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri. Another two from The Hutchinson News in Kansas (“Which was an even smaller newsroom”). A part-timer laid off at Springfield News-Leader, and a full-timer at the Topeka Capital-Journal, not to mention a host of unfilled positions that would be closed.

The Burlington Hawk Eye — the only of Gannett’s 13 Iowa properties discussed — got the worst of the Plains region: Three full-time reporters and one part-timer were laid off. This left three in the newsroom: two for the news section and one for sports.

Back in 2015, the Associated Press presented the Hawk Eye with two prestigious awards: the First Amendment and Mark Twain awards for its newsroom's excellence. On the award, there are 25 faces smiling from the 2015 newsroom. Seven years later, only two of those faces remain at The Hawk Eye.
 

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
113,509
86,006
113
I’m sure you also laugh at the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. We know your type. 🙂

I do support local news, and get the local fishwrap delivered here at Tradition Manor, even though they have also been absorbed into the Gannett evil empire.
 

Kinnick.At.Night

HR Legend
Jun 27, 2018
10,108
19,800
113
We still have the Cedar Rapids Gazette delivered because my wife likes to read it. It bums me out that it’s not printed in Cedar Rapids anymore though.
 

torbee

HR King
Gold Member
Meanwhile, the frog sits in the kettle of water slowly heating itself to a full boil, asking, “Hey, what’s for dinner?”
As “local newspapers” slowly fade away, the nation slowly gets a little dumber and no one complains about Americans losing their 1st Amendment right.
I expect corruption to run rampant in mid and small sized cities across the country. There is quite literally no one around holding local governments accountable at all. We now have to rely on politicians' and bureaucrats' good intentions and excellent ethics. Let that sink in for a minute.
 

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
113,509
86,006
113
It works. You should do like a MTV cribs to show us said "manor."

I've revealed some teasers over the years.

 

GOHOX69

HR Legend
Sep 26, 2009
14,576
18,274
113
I've revealed some teasers over the years.

Yea but you need to amp up the production value.
 

Hawki97

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Dec 16, 2001
9,291
13,541
113
Iowa City, IA
I expect corruption to run rampant in mid and small sized cities across the country. There is quite literally no one around holding local governments accountable at all. We now have to rely on politicians' and bureaucrats' good intentions and excellent ethics. Let that sink in for a minute.

I've spent a few brain cycles on this but nothing really in depth - but what really is the answer? It's a product that people don't seem to want anymore. And even local news has the benefits you're describing, we can't just start treating it like a charity. Does it have to go away and things get bad before people will demand it again?
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

HR Legend
Gold Member
Oct 13, 2006
26,472
35,372
113
Meanwhile, the frog sits in the kettle of water slowly heating itself to a full boil, asking, “Hey, what’s for dinner?”
As “local newspapers” slowly fade away, the nation slowly gets a little dumber and no one complains about Americans losing their 1st Amendment right.
Vast majority of folks have no idea what's going on in their community anymore because of the disappearance of local newspapers. That's not good for oversight of local governments...
 

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
73,794
38,961
113
you can’t always get what you want!
I expect corruption to run rampant in mid and small sized cities across the country. There is quite literally no one around holding local governments accountable at all. We now have to rely on politicians' and bureaucrats' good intentions and excellent ethics. Let that sink in for a minute.
PLUS....with the disappearance of local papers, a great source of entertainment in America is being lost...Faulty sentence structure, “typos” and poor grammar usage are hallmarks of “local newspapers” and a constant (and cheap) source of entertainment for their readers....alas, this is now but a passing memory of Americana!
 

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
113,509
86,006
113
PLUS....with the disappearance of local papers, a great source of entertainment in America is being lost...Faulty sentence structure, “typos” and poor grammar usage are hallmarks of “local newspapers” and a constant (and cheap) source of entertainment for their readers....alas, this is now but a passing memory of Americana!

Please. The national USA Today does that all the time, too. Not exclusive to small town newspapers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 23 so far

torbee

HR King
Gold Member
PLUS....with the disappearance of local papers, a great source of entertainment in America is being lost...Faulty sentence structure, “typos” and poor grammar usage are hallmarks of “local newspapers” and a constant (and cheap) source of entertainment for their readers....alas, this is now but a passing memory of Americana!
The first wave of layoffs was mid-level editors --- copy editors, assistant metro editors, etc. That was about 20 years ago and led directly to what you are talking about. Just another example of an industry that tries to cut costs by diminishing the quality of the product.
 

Rifler

HR Legend
Jan 26, 2011
24,920
19,865
113
I have listened to NPR religiously for over 40 years, and continue to do so,.. Sorry, but this organization totally lost it's shit during the Trump administration and hasn't completely returned.
 

lucas80

HR King
Gold Member
Jan 30, 2008
97,399
127,501
113
I have listened to NPR religiously for over 40 years, and continue to do so,.. Sorry, but this organization totally lost it's shit during the Trump administration and hasn't completely returned.
Sure, but that story about blackberries this morning was awesome.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Slappy Pappy

torbee

HR King
Gold Member
I've spent a few brain cycles on this but nothing really in depth - but what really is the answer? It's a product that people don't seem to want anymore. And even local news has the benefits you're describing, we can't just start treating it like a charity. Does it have to go away and things get bad before people will demand it again?
It's going to take community-minded folks running papers as INDEPENDENTS again -- some no doubt now operating as non-profits -- to restore the watchdog role that the big chains have decimated.
I have a lot of anger toward these chains, as they try to say they aren't as bad as the hedge funds like Alden, but really, they ARE DOING THE SAME THING -- destroying the quality of product, reducing news staffs and wringing out "shareholder value" with zero concern for how that hurts the fundamental mission of journalism.

The fact is, accurate, factual information about what the government, schools, businesses as well as other institutions and individuals is valuable and necessary. Information is still powerful.

Navigating the new information landscape, however, is very challenging, especially if you are trying to make money.
 
  • Like
Reactions: HawkMD

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
113,509
86,006
113
Hopefully, as climate change is a major threat to agriculture as we know it and will require human ingenuity to cope with.

I read a story about how poison ivy and poison oak will thrive in a warming world.

I'd think the same would be true of blackberries.
 

Hawki97

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Dec 16, 2001
9,291
13,541
113
Iowa City, IA
It's going to take community-minded folks running papers as INDEPENDENTS again -- some no doubt now operating as non-profits -- to restore the watchdog role that the big chains have decimated.
I have a lot of anger toward these chains, as they try to say they aren't as bad as the hedge funds like Alden, but really, they ARE DOING THE SAME THING -- destroying the quality of product, reducing news staffs and wringing out "shareholder value" with zero concern for how that hurts the fundamental mission of journalism.

The fact is, accurate, factual information about what the government, schools, businesses as well as other institutions and individuals is valuable and necessary. Information is still powerful.

Navigating the new information landscape, however, is very challenging, especially if you are trying to make money.

So best case scenario - we’d want independently wealthy people or groups to start up hometown newspapers, be technically and “new media” proficient (or the money to hire such folk), have the understanding and capability of being journalists (or the money to hire such folk), have the desire and passion to carry through from a relatively altruistic place, and not worry about it being a (big) money making venture down the road.

I wish it wasn’t such a tough ask because I believe in local journalism (particularly the investigative / watchdog side of things) but man it’s a tough hill to climb.
 
  • Like
Reactions: torbee

RNHawk

HR Legend
Gold Member
Dec 5, 2001
11,271
4,348
113
38 percent of the American population joined a cult, and autocratic cults always discredit the media. They know discrediting the media paves the way for a takeover.
The media was having problems long before Trump
 
  • Haha
Reactions: HawkMD

Latest posts