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Capital To Furlough All Employees

| December 14, 2009, 07:31 PM | 8 Comments

Despite Rate Hike, Paper Still Struggles

Late this afternoon the Twittersphere was buzzing about a new round of furloughs for all employees of The Capital.  According to one tweet,

The entire paper will be furloughed for five days in the first half of 2010.

Another tweet was slightly more humorous,

Help a journalist, buy a newspaper! The Capital is getting 5 unpaid furlough days in early 2010. Pls support good journalism!

Recently, The Capital has been struggling and was forced to lay off and furlough employees, outsource their printing to a company in Prince Georges County, and increase the prices of their daily and Sunday papers.  Certainly the recession and the economy

Not Alone

The Capital is not alone.  Papers across the nation are in dire straits and it is expected that The Washington Times will  cease operations in 2010.  According to a report in mediabistro.com today

Nothing is certain, but the projected layoffs are inching closer to 60 percent and the option of closing the paper within six months is starting to look like the most likely scenario

With the onslaught on “new media”, traditional media is playing a game of catch up. The days of being able to report news on a deadline are long gone and today’s news is instantaneous and transmitted by blogs, twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks.

Recently, we were speaking with an editor of a major New York paper about the advent of new media. From a 30 plus year newspaperman, the response was surprising.  “Among the things I have learned from you is that journalism has changed. You and the “new media” provide “traditional media”, the expertise to cover the “news”. You thus have become “main stream” and we have become a distributive tool – broadening your audience for content. The people in “new media” can be a reporter, lobbyist, interpreter, expert, congressional witness, advocate, propagandist, or perhaps all of the above.  Maybe it all comes down to integrity and credibility which you have by the caseload.”

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About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Merry O'Brien says:

    I’ve come to rely on The Capital. I read at least 5 articles a day about social, environmental, political news. Our city is fortunate to have some great blogs like this one, Capital Punishment, and Annapolis Politics. But most of these people are part-timers with jobs to make a living. They can’t be at every important meeting, and they each have their own political agenda understandably. I really hope The Capital pulls through.

    The trouble is that I don’t want to read a print paper. I want to read a paper online as I finish my morning coffee or take a midday break at work (like right now). I want hyperlinks to click to additional content. I want to interact. This is how most of us experience the world now. Sure, there’s something nice and nostalgic about crisp newsprint, but there’s far more nice about online content.

    I think The Capital should consider a “donate” button for us internet readers. Industries that have done this, have oftentimes made profit and then some because people feel grateful for the trust/friendship vibe. There’s a certain buy-in there, that goes with the whole participatory nature of online content.

    I’m a poor nonprofit worker, but I’d certainly chip in 50 bucks/yr. If I would, others would too. I don’t think there’s anything shameful about putting out the hat if the content is valuable. For our local paper, it is!

  2. JWF says:

    Merry–you make some great points. One of the problems is that way back when very few “traditional” media players had the foresight to charge for content. Hence, the WWW became this giant free for all information clearinghouse and now it is difficult to charge for something that people rely upon as “free”. Would you EVER buy a Yugo for $30,000?

    But that is also changing as the wire services are getting particular about what and how content is distributed. It is constantly evolving and everyone–papers, magazines, blogs, etc are trying to figure out how to effectively monetize Web 2.0.

    Craigslist absolutely decimated the classified market. A year ago, The Capital had more pages in foreclosures than in classified ads.

    The other issue with traditional media is that you can tell how many papers were sold and to a degree where they were sold. But that is the limit you can supply to your advertisers. Online enables you to target readers and to generally segment them a bit better. No, I can;t see that you are on 123 Main Street, but I can see that you are in Zip Code 12345 and that you read this story, that story and clicked on this ad.

    The Capital serves a noble purpose here in town for sure and I too would hate to see them go. I am a hybrid user. I prefer the paper, but also read online. And I used to subscribe, but they could not seem to go a week without missing a paper, so I got some exercise and walked to the local paper box daily. But now with the increase in the news stand pricing, I frequent the box less often!

  3. Merry O'Brien says:

    That’s very true. The WWW started free, and now its hard to go back. I think that’s part of why I favor a donations model over a set fee model.

    I would get ticked just a bit despite myself if the online Capital charged. I would understand logically, but my first impulse would be “darn it.” I think this would turn off others too, even if we tried to be kind and understand.

    On the other hand, if they included a donate button, I’d feel such warm, fuzzy goodwill towards them, that I’d prob donate more than is wise given my income. :)

    I think the idea of paying our neighbors to add rich content to our local social fabric, is especially appropriate to online mediums, where we all feel a part of a dialogue together. To some degree, we feel like we co-create and own the blogs where we hang out online. We feel as if we know each other and the guy writing them. It’s a weird sense, that could be capitalized on monetarily. Oddly enough, the WORLD WIDE web has brought me closer to the LOCAL reporter, via their personal twitter & blogs, and now I feel more of a responsibility for the content I consume. I feel a sense of community with them, and want them to get their paychecks for the work they do.

  4. Merry O'Brien says:

    Ok, this is really eerie! I got home tonight to see this tweet from NPR’s David Folkenflik @davidfolkenflik

    “Holy Tip Jar! Miami Herald asks readers for voluntary contributions …. http://bit.ly/6Sh9Ln

    This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about!

  5. SevernaPark Guy says:

    I grew up as a paperboy for the Capital and have been reading it for over 30 years! It is very sad to see this decline. Let’s hope they find a way to survive.

  6. JWF says:

    Merry—thakns for this. Will have a post later this afternoon on it!

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