Thursday, September 18, 2008


David Hinckley of the 'New York Daily News' wrote up a review of the eighth season opener for 'Smallville' and began with this salvo which could have been directed at his own bosses:

In Thursday's season premiere of "Smallville," young Clark Kent reconsiders his reluctance and decides he will become a reporter at the Daily Planet.

It's nice to know someone in the newspaper biz is still hiring.

Had the Daily News considered the position of TV critic so important in its line-up, David Hinckley would still be the pop culture columnist at large and the fantastic David Bianculli would still be at the paper writing up his reviews and collections of TV in-jokes which he calls "Extras".

It's a growing problem which I've addressed before, earlier this year in fact.

Roger Catlin of the Hartford Courant thinks his job is not long for this world. After all, the newspaper's way of thinking is that they just have to pick up TV news stories off the wire and who needs a local voice on the topic? And now it looks like one of my other favorites, Alan Sepinwall of the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, may find his job in peril, along with everybody else at the paper.

"Editor & Publisher" has obtained a recent memo from George Arwady, the paper's publisher:

To: All Star-Ledger Employees
From: George Arwady
Date: September 16, 2008
Re: Update

As I have previously told you, there are three conditions that must be met in order for The Star-Ledger to remain in business under its current ownership. Although we are making progress toward meeting two of our three conditions (the Mailers have a ratification vote scheduled for September 22), we still are far from an agreement with the Drivers’ union.

Accordingly, since it is doubtful that the Drivers will ratify an agreement by October 8, 2008, we will be sending formal notices to all employees this week, as required by both federal and New Jersey law, advising you that the Company will be sold, or, failing that, that it will close operations on January 5, 2009.

It is most unfortunate that we have to send out this notice, but the Drivers have left us with no choice.

George Arwady, Publisher

Meanwhile, McClatchy Co. announced another round of staff reductions which will cut the work force by 10%. And this comes three months after an earlier 10% cut was announced. On top of this, Gannett Co. which is the largest newspaper company in the United States, reported a third straight month of steep advertising declines in its publishing branch.

My brother is an editor at a paper in Connecticut; one of my best friends is an editor at the New York Times. So news like this is upsetting to me on a deeper level than just losing TV columns I enjoy reading.

As this economy seems to be getting worse, I can only hope everybody involved survives this downturn.....

Toby O'B

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