Monday, May 4, 2009

ACES Numbers and a Few Words from Jack Welch

Got back late last night and am having to re-enter the stream of life -- being 56, of course, I am genetically unable to multitask -- or is it simply not particularly interested in doing so? The American Copy Editors Society convention final total was 259 registrations. In Denver last year it was just over 300; I don't recall the exact figure from Denver, but using what I think it was, that means ACES 2009 -- lousy economy, horrible time for newspapers, etc. , and in a comparable location with no other major cities nearby -- had 85 percent of last year's attendance.

And it's certainly loyal, motivated, concerned workers such as these, who are trying to not only better their current skills but learn new ones for SEO, audio, video, that the industry needs less of, because all they really are is "mechanical" workers. Can someone who does newsroom job analyses and provides these figures on "how many" people a newsroom should have proportionately in each category find out what copy editors really do and reassign them to the "working journalist" category?

Anyhow, got to run, but I did want to draw attention to comments by Jack Welch on Friday in my paper. He did put another stake into the Boston Globe, but the main thing is his comments on local TV news: "'They're really hurting. Local advertising has gone away.' Generally, local TV is 'in worse shape than newspapers,'" Welch said.

Well, you won't see that on the 10 o'clock news, because TV news does not operate under the belief that public self-flagellation proves your objectivity. And TV can be dying but still keep the ratings up and doesn't have an ABC Fas-Fax to fixate on. (Note to newspaper business: Just stop reporting the damn thing. Yes, some online critics will accuse you of being self-serving. Who cares? How many people are going to go out of their way, even online, to read a story about the ABC Fas-Fax? Don't lie; but newspapers never have reported everything they know.)

But maybe some newspapers would like to call TV stations and ask their general managers to discuss the revenue picture, or call some news directors and ask them about staffing levels, number of stories covered, whether their annual conferences are disrupted, etc.? About whether they are merging back-office work? About how successful their Web presences have been both in terms of views and economics? TV is still the most-trusted source of news for most Americans. Partly that is because TV just tells its viewers, "Trust us." It doesn't run stories saying, "We're going down and so you should trust us less."

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