Saturday, April 14, 2012

I work at the fifth-worst career

In case you've not heard about it, newspaper journalism was listed by some career site earlier this week as the fifth-worst career in the U.S.

Throw out my best newspaper job, at a group of suburban Dallas weeklies before they went belly-up (which of course ties to why newspapers are getting ever worse) and I easily believe it.

Last two papers?

A national chain that believes Facebooking everything is the "answer" for driving both website and mobile app advertising sales, even though the website is still free and, IMO, the disparity between mobile-based ads and traditional online ads will not be a long-term deal.

And currently, a paper with "old-school" newspaper vets, Type A male yellers, the senior of whom, I think, believes this Texas Hill Country town can be a new Fredericksburg, when it won't. Sorry. Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

And, it works on the "margins" as far as staffing size, even for today's newspaper world, to boot.

That's even as the national chains continue to engage in forced furloughs, job cuts, or both, at the reporter/editor level at local newspapers, while simultaneously paying out bigger bonuses to top brass precisely for making those cuts.

And that's the dirty secret of why top brass of most national chains have no interest in a nonprofit newspaper incorporation bill, should one ever get real consideration by Congress. They'd rather skim now, and "apres moi, le deluge," than engage in responsible management. Local operations, meanwhile, continue to dream of "new angles" while stretching themselves ever thinner between hardcopy, traditional web, and mobile content delivery, while barely having the staff to do justice to hardcopy coverage.

Sure, lots of college students still study journalism. They may believe the myths of liberal media. They may be clueless about the business-side issues. They may be in love with online journalism while remaining clueless to the fact that about nobody's figured out how to monetize it yet.

And, while they're still taking journalism classes to be a new exploitable crop, and others, formerly in the traditional biz, now work at various demand mills, the fifth-worst ain't going to get much better. It's that simple.

Kids in J-schools should be required to take a class in newspaper business management first. Second, they ought to be disabused of much of their belief in the "liberal media," if they hold it for good, unlike Faux News types.

As for the current disparity between traditional web ad rates and mobile-specific ad rates, reportedly as high as 5-1? Within in a decade, that difference will be no greater than 2-1, driven primarily by greater use of mobile devices, greater competition for eyeballs, etc.

Remember how much higher traditional web ad rates were a decade ago? The same things drove them down as will drive down mobile rates.

The Net, in its various delivery forms, has just the opposite problem as old newspaper media. You got plenty of room for editorial content, of course, but, because of ephemeral attention in many cases, there's limited "space" for ads. Plus, add in ad-block software, etc., and web rates plummeted.

I have no doubt that for both Android and iOS for Apple, somebody will invent the equivalent of ad-block programs, too. It's going to happen.

Oh, and as for the current locale, that's not just my opinion.

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