Nov. 12, 2008 12:00

WHITE NOISE: News and info from inside the media bubble

Self-cannibalization

The latest and most dispiriting turn of events in the News & Record’s troubles — following substantial layoffs last year and an unsuccessful effort to court a buyer — was the Nov. 7 announcement by Publisher Robin Saul of a new buyout program to reduce full-time positions by 8 to 10 percent. We don’t claim to have any more insight into the economics of the newspaper business than the next yahoo, but how exactly do you expect to reverse declining readership and revenue when you keep degrading the product by jettisoning the people who report the news and catch typos? If not enough employees take the buyouts, Saul

indicated in a Nov. 7 News & Record story credited to staff reports, layoffs would be the next step. — JG

Payback’s a bitch

Okay, we get it: The Obamas will be bringing a new dog to the White House. But seriously, CNN, do we really need a think piece tracing the history of dogs in the White House? Also sick of all the coverage this theoretical dog is getting: Barney, the Scottish terrier who is one of the current White House dogs. Last week, as members of the White House Press Corps fawned over the pooch during his morning walk, Reuters television correspondent Jon Decker reached down to pet the little guy and got bit on the index ginger.

The whole thing was captured on video. “He totally got me,” Decker said immediately afterwards. He was treated with antibiotics by White House physician Dr. Richard Tubb, and will reportedly receive a tetanus shot. — BC

Tribune reports $124 million loss, Gannett chief takes pay cut

On Monday the nation’s largest employee-owned media company reported a third-quarter loss of $124 million compared with income from continuing operations of $84 million in the third quarter of 2007. The Tribune Company, owner of the Chicago Tribune, WGN-TV and the Chicago Cubs baseball franchise operates businesses in publishing, interactive and broadcasting, including 10 daily newspapers and owns commuter tabloids and 23 television stations.

“We are operating in an exceptionally difficult financial and economic environment,” commented Sam Zell, Tribune chairman and CEO. “The newspaper industry continues to see extraordinary declines in ad revenues, and Tribune is no exception.” In its publishing division, Tribune Company reported a 19-percent drop in advertising revenues, a 7percent decline in interactive revenues and a decrease in daily circulation by 2 percent. Overall, Tribune Company’s publishing third-quarter operating revenues were $654 million, down 13 percent, or $99 million, from 2007. Publishing cash operating expenses were $640 million, up 6 percent, or $36 million, from 2007. In a related story, Craig Dubow, the chief executive of Gannett Co., announced on Nov. 5 he would take a voluntary 17-percent pay cut through next year, while senior executives will have their salaries frozen as the nation’s top newspaper publisher prepares for major layoffs next month. Dubow said he was reducing his annual pay by $200,000 beginning this month and continuing through 2009. — KB

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