Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Wire: Reflecting life as it is - including the newsroom battleground


I was wondering if people in the real world know just what is happening to the media industry, or is the grim knowledge contained just within the inner-sanctum of the media circle?

Then I got to episode three, season five of The Wire and I heard a speech being delivered by a fictional executive editor to the fictional newsroom of the non-fictional Baltimore Sun. What he said are words that have been echoed in newsrooms around the world.

It's a bad time for newspapers. As you all know.

The news hole is shrinking as advertising dollars continue to decline. Our circulation numbers are also down as we compete with a variety of media. Technology is driving distribution and the internet is a free source of news and opinions. Seeking a balance in this new world we are now faced with hard choices.

We opened our first foreign bureau in London in 1924. The Sun's foreign coverage has been a source of pride ever since. So it is with tremendous regret that I tell you that Chicago (head office) has made it clear that the bureaus in Beijing, Moscow, Jerusalem, Johannesburg and London will all be shut. Elsewhere in the newsroom there will be a fresh round of buy-outs. Chicago has given us some specific budgetary targets that will require some hard choices throughout the newsroom.

We are quite simply going to have to find ways of doing more with less.

Sound familiar?

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