Recession Forces Industry Publications
To Do More With Less Say Editors
By George S. Mc Quade III
West Coast Bureau Chief
Most reporters, editors and writers are doing two jobs
“The most significant changes in what I do on a daily basis, like any business, we are being asked to more with less,” said Carl DiOrio, deputy film editor, The Hollywood Reporter. “They don’t want to hear what’s not possible, it is just circumstances that are just a given.” DiOrio’s message was echoed by Panelists Josh Dickey, deputy entertainment editor, Associated Press and CEO and Co-Founder Michael Stroud, iHollywood Forum, Inc. /Freelance Journalist at an Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS) workshop at ICG local 600, Hollywood, CA. It was moderated by Joe Schlosser, senior vice president, Communications, NBC-Universal Television Studio-Distribution.
“What used to be considered a skeleton staff is now covering the entire entertainment waterfront,” explained DiOrio. “For example I have added DVD beats to my coverage and luckily I had a couple of years experience in working that area for another publication.”
“The downsizing of publications of all sorts, which has certainly hit the trades, once again just this week at our competitor (Variety), where I used to call home is feeling the cuts,” said DiOrio. “Whenever someone cuts a beat at one of the trades, it allows them to lower the bar down the street and if you see that the mainstream press is an extension of what we prioritize in our entertainment coverage, there is deterioration in the flow of information out of it.”
“The layoffs at the entertainment trades such as Variety, Hollywood Reporter and LA Times have created a new demand for freelance journalists,” said Michael Stroud. “It is not something desirable, but it’s a reality. I have spent the last six or seven years as CEO of a conference company and we have been hit hard as well by the recession. The first thing to go in a recession is marketing and people regard trade shows as an integral part of their marketing.”
iHollywood has two shows at the National Assn. of Broadcasters (NAB) that focuses on digital Hollywood issues and trends entitled, Advertising Innovation Summit and Mobile Entertainment Summit, which are co-producers of the NAB event.
“As the conference business falls back somewhat, suddenly there’s this big industry demand for writing, and I am getting a growing number of calls, which is actually is a good thing as I wanted to write more.” Stroud is no stranger to the business and witnessed the rise and fall of dot.coms while writing for Red Herring magazine in San Jose, CA. “ You can’t support yourself as a freelance writer, so I’m not giving up my day job.”
Stroud predicted that some newspaper and trade publications will disappear in 10-20 years due to Online editions. Stroud, who writes for Hollywood Reporter is working on a “digital power issue.” He contributes to NewTV.com and the newly launched TheWrap.com, which covers Hollywood’s TV, movie and media. “So if you have an extremely powerful and digital pitch, I have done 15 profiles so far for the May Issue, I could use 10 more stories.”
“It has been an enormous year of pain at the AP, and I think the recession simply accelerated,” said Josh Dickey, deputy entertainment editor, The Associated Press. “The AP has made it not secret that it is changing from a provider of print content to newspapers, to a provider of digital content to everyone but newspapers.”
The AP stills serves 3,500 newspapers across the world, which is still a big part of its revenue base, but it is not the main part anymore according to Dickey.
“The big assumption people make about the AP is it is the way to get your story into the newspaper across the world,” explained Dickey. “That’s just a smart part of what we do, or a fifth of the total operations. AP Television has become a massive part of our effort. We are not repurposing a lot of the reporting that’s being done for AP radio, AP Television and to also serve the print reports, which today is called ‘text’, which I prefer to call it news. So we are driving news reports through whatever communication format we are using.”
Dickey noted that AP used to be divided into TV, radio, graphics, photos and print sections doing their own thing. As we are a business-to-business model, most business would take that content and package it as they saw fit.
Learning to be the one woman or
one man band – wave of the future
“Now what’s happening is all of those departments are starting to mingle,” note Dickey. “We have video journalists who are now learning to write the wire. We have print journalists, who are learning to cut audio for the audio wire and radio packages. Pretty soon they’ll be picking up video cameras. I think that the deeper future shows us journalists it’s not just speaking all the languages but knowing all the platforms. The smart college student right now is taking classes in all of these different things, not pigeon-holing themselves in any of them (skills).”
Reporters lose sleep over demanding deadlines
AP’s Dickey admits he finds himself reading emails at 2:00 in the morning just to play catch up with the job and bombardment of information coming to his beat. “My day-to-day responsibilities changed just a few days ago, and they took the deputy title off, and put interim for the time being. We lost Jeannette Adams in New York when she left the company creating a vacuum for me, so I am doing two jobs. I’m tap dancing more and sleeping less. First thing I do when I get into the office is ramp up training on new platforms, and all of our journalists around the globe have to do the same to be able to do each other’s jobs.”
“We never sleep, you are never off deadline when you have the website and something breaks at 10:00 at night they kind of want you to write it up and get it posted as quickly as possible before you go to sleep. News hole or no news hole you do have a way of getting things out and that’s a good thing,” said DiOrio.
“There is going to be things that fall through the cracks in coverage. The news hole is shrinking. If you do not have the advertising support, how much news you can cram into the book is going to be less. As a practical matter less is covered,” said DiOrio.
One huge surprise story that was posted Online, after it aired one week after Susan Boyle – Britain‘s Got Talent 2009 Episode 1 – Saturday, April 11th. Boyle became an overnight sensation when everyone thought she was destined to be voted off the show of Britain’s Got Talent, until she sang on stage. A Youtube version earned more than 44 million visitors Online. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY)
“I would love to have 60 people in Britain watching YouTube all the time,” said Dickey. “That was an amazing story that took us all by surprise and got legs worldwide.”
All of the writer panelists said they prefer an email pitch, and it you do not hear back from them a follow-up call might be in order. To contact them the writers:
Joshy Dickey, Associated Press: JDickey@ap.org; Carl DiOrio, Dep. Film Editor, The Hollywood Reporter: email@example.com and Michael Stroud, IHollywood Forum, Inc., Freelance Journalist: Michael@ihollywood.com.
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