Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Death of Newspapers

The inky wretch part of my soul just curled up with a huge pain in the gut after reading this:

As of yesterday, some section editors at all of the company's papers, including The News, will now report directly to Carr's team of sales managers, now referred to as general managers. In short, those who sell ads for A.H. Belo's products will now dictate content within A.H. Belo's products, which is a radical departure from the way newspapers have been run since, oh, forever.

Those sections mentioned in the memo include sports, entertainment, real estate, automotive and travel, among others.The memo doesn't mention Business or Metro by name, but there are references to "health/education" and "retail/finance"; these are not defined in the missive. Says the memo, Carr's sales force will "be working closely with news leadership in product and content development." Executive sports editor Bob Yates and Lifestyles deputy managing editor Lisa Kresl are quoted in the memo enthusiastically signing off on the unconventional marriage; says Kresl, "I'm excited about the idea of working with a business partner on an arts and entertainment segment."

The wall of separation between the business side and the editorial side of newspapers is an institution that prevented business considerations from influencing editorial decisions. This was important for the pursuit of news; sales reps dislike when you do investigative reports on advertisers. I can't imagine how this is going to improve news.