Thursday, April 23, 2015

'Full-scale panic' at the Miami Herald

(Former) Miami Herald outdoors writer Sue Cocking. 

UPDATED Saturday, April 25: McClatchy’s stock continues to take a pummeling. "McClatchy shares have been trading between $1.50 and $1.60 the last several days. That is about half where they were at the start of 2015, and they have lost roughly three-quarters since this time a year ago." Put another way, a copy of the Sunday Miami Herald costs more than a share of McClatchy stock.


UPDATED Friday, April 24: In its first quarter 2015 earnings report, McClatchy, the Herald's parent company warns of more layoffs: "Management noted that expenses may be reduced further if needed based upon the revenue environment."

And there's this from McClatchy's president and CEO Pat Talamantes: "In light of weaker print advertising revenues this year, individual newspapers are adopting additional cost reduction plans to achieve their budgets. We expect to have another challenging quarter in the second quarter before cash flow flattens in the second half of 2015."


The Miami Herald fired long-time outdoors writer Sue Cocking yesterday.

Before we continue, let's just stop for a minute and let that sink in: The executives at a newspaper in Florida - the Sunshine State - just fired a writer who covered the outdoors. (The paper, however, still has a dance critic.)

Retired Herald staff writer Elinor Brecher posted this on Facebook today:

More layoffs at the Miami Herald. Five years ago they cut through the fat into the muscle. They've been cutting through the muscle down to the bone ever since. Now they're dismembering the carcass. Heaven help the handful of news staff remaining if there's a Cat 5 hurricane or a major plane crash or any other big story. My heart breaks for my friends who lost their jobs - and for those who still try so hard every day to do good work. There's a special place in hell for the corporate bloodsuckers who get bonuses for figuring out how to destroy their underlings' careers --- and a once-great newspaper in the process.

I'm guessing that since 2009, at least 100 newsroom and HR staffers have been laid off, bought out, outright fired, strongly urged to retire, moved on to new careers (after seeing the handwriting on the wall), quit because they were about to be reassigned to crappy jobs and/or couldn't stomach the Doral move, which was the nail in the Herald's coffin.
And here's what retired Tampa Bay Times Florida writer Jeff Klinkenberg had to say on Facebook...trying to make sense of the firing of an outdoors writer by a newspaper in the Sunshine State:

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that the bean counters running Florida newspapers these days are not rocket scientists. Today's case in point: The Miami Herald has eliminated my friend Sue Cocking's job, outdoors writer.

S. Florida is arguably the outdoor sport capital of the free world, with thousands (if not millions) of residents choosing to live or visit there because of the fishing, sailing, offshore boating, birding, kayaking, hiking and even hunting. Sailors and fishers usually have money--their sports are expensive. They're just the demographic, by the way, most likely to read a newspaper.

Newspaper managers clearly are in full-scale panic and seem out of touch with readers. In fact, this makes me wonder if the Herald has given up.

Finally, could there be any connection between the Herald's disastrous management strategies, partly advanced by Executive Editor Mindy Marques, and the mysterious failure of Innocents Lost to make it to the finals of the Pulitzers, where she serves on the board? Keep checking back here for an answer to that question.

So, why should you care about any of this?

Here's why.

If things keep going the way they are at the Herald, pretty soon there won't be a Miami Herald and this is how you'll get your news...from goofballs like this guy.

Click to enlarge.

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