Friday, September 24, 2010

Meanwhile ...

With all the serious matters that have dominated my thoughts at work in recent months, I haven't paid much attention to mundane matters about which I've been known blog.

For example:

*You must see the film "Get Low" and admire the gripping performance by Robert Duvall, one of a handful of actors who can mesmerize an audience.

*I keep tuning into WFAN radio on the way home each evening, hoping for a satisfying sports fix. Instead, I routinely get aggravated by Mike Francesa, whose bullying, know-it-all style is one thing, but whose horrible broadcasting skills are another. If you're a listener, you'll recognize the following oft-repeated phrases as if they were the sounds of chalk on a blackboard: "I mean" ... "obviously" ... "as a matter of fact" ... "no question" ... "I mean" (Oh, did I say that already? Francesa says it repeatedly.) And then there are his endless questions of guests, which are not only redundant, but more often than not statements of his own opinion. (Yes, I know, I can change the station. Believe me, I do.)

*George Steinbrenner was worthy of a place in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. But the size of his plaque/monument is embarrassingly large.

*If I were Kingston Mayor Jim Sottile, I'd have vetoed the unenforceable cat law, too. That said, there's this cat that keeps showing up in my driveway in Woodstock and we can't figure out to whom it belongs and how to shoo it on its way. Animal control officer, take note.

*Can't say I don't share some of the anger of those who are trying to upset the political apple cart in this country. But I'd feel a lot better about them and their candidates if they stopped telling us they're angry and instead let us know specifically what they'd do to make things better. You'll never hear me automatically pooh-pooh a "throw the bums out" approach to politics. But you won't earn my vote if all you do is speak in slogans.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sleepless nights

Regular followers of this blog are aware that I don't approve comments from anonymous contributors. You know who I am, so if you want to reply to something I've written or done, have the courage to tell me who you are.

That said, a recent nameless critic of my blogs about production shifts and layoffs at the Freeman sarcastically asked the following: How do I sleep at night?

The answer is, not well. Difficult decisions that negatively impact people's lives will do that to someone who publishes a newspaper - or operates any business for that matter. I like to say that the last good night's sleep I had was in 1978. That's not precise, but it's probably not a bad guess.

Meanwhile, here are the thoughts of John Paton, CEO of our parent company, on his blog about "why we at Journal Register Company are doing what we are doing."

"That the newspaper industry is profoundly changed is a given. In the last four years half of all newspaper industry advertising has disappeared. Half. What took more than 200 years to build saw half disappear in four years. And it isn’t coming back anytime soon because how people want to access our core product – news – is also profoundly changed. And the way advertisers spend to reach our core customers has also changed. They spend less in newspapers and more elsewhere.

"If we want to survive we have to adapt to that change. And that won’t be easy because the new revenue streams of mobile, video, widgets and web will take years to grow to the levels that support our current cost structure. And then there is the cost of building those new platforms.

"We will have to cut our infrastructure costs – overhead, buildings, production, distribution, etc. – if we are to survive to enjoy that new future. So that means consolidation, in-sourcing and out-sourcing to reduce those costs. And training both current and new employees on the necessary new skills. ...

"So, yes, some of the jobs will be eliminated in that process and some added. All newspaper companies – including JRC – will be smaller going forward as they grow into more modern multiple-platform news companies preserving the jobs and fostering the careers of the vast majority of our current employees."