I looked at a job advertisement recently.
It was looking for a boss for two paid for titles and I was interested. My background is frees and nationals, so I have never really had much scope to see if what I preach - news sells - actually can work in this day and age.
So I did a little research. The titles both weeklies were selling fairly well in this climate with 17k and 13k subs. Circulation was down 7.1 and 3.1 per cent year on year, so tragic but not yet terminal - if it can be stopped.
My juices flowing, I looked at the accompanying website to see what alleged 'nationals-follow-us-up' kind of stories they were running.
After five minutes I realised their idea of stories was very, very different to mine.
My idea of a local paper is one that even a stranger to the town would find something interesting in it to read ie it would contain good stories.
Their website was mainly 'community' toss. No real court work, no investigative stuff, in fact barely a news story at all. Most of it smelled like it had started out as a bad press release from an overpaid PR wanker.
My spider sense really started tingling when I looked at the staffing levels.
Four reporters, a sports guy, a deputy editor and, overseeing the empire, a group editor.
For two paid fors.
Allegedly, the company's jewel-in-the-crown, market-leading paid fors, to boot.
How can that be allowed to happen? Surely at the most basic level, each of these paid fors should have four reporters alone just to give them a sporting chance.
Four reporters, not allowing for sickness and holidays, writing for TWO paid fors, covering two areas.
So two each. Presumably producing just enough 'stories' to fill the largish news page sizes you would expect from a paid for title.
The ad said the job was 'very hard work'. It should have read 'impossibly hard' and should have advertised for a captain to pilot a sinking ship rather than an editor expected to boost sales.
If this is the way this company, which apparently starts with a J and ends with ohnstone, treats two of its top titles, then it is no wonder our industry is in such a perilous state.
People will buy newspapers if there is something in them that they want to read. FACT.
By investing in editorial, with real wages and realistic staffing levels, you can create a product people WILL buy. FACT
The thirst for knowledge has not diminished. But unfortunately neither has the greed of the newspaper whores that rule our worlds. FACT.