Nip/Tuck for newsrooms

BuzzMachine Jeff Jarvis proposes how he would reallocate resources in a newsroom with a staff of a 100 with a 30 percent cut to a staff of 70. I found this more than mildly interesting since I work in a newsroom of just over 100.

I’m glad Jarvis says his chart is “utter bullshit” because I did not find my new job (news director of innovation) in his survivor column and he cuts top editors from 10 to 4. He does, however, come up with a radically smaller and locally focused staff. That’s certainly the direction that is necessary. And he has a collaborative version of his spreadsheet where you can come up with a better one that starts with 100 and ends at 70.

Take a look at his spreadsheet and see what you think.

Morris Communications’ Steve Yelvington laments the declines he see in Jarvis’ spreadsheet for copyeditors, but believes their numbers will continue to shrink outside the cells of Jarvis’ spreadsheet and in real newsrooms — and take with them reporters because of the dirty little secret of newsrooms.

Because without copy editors, the reporters who are weakest at writing, at attention to detail, at stepping out of their own heads and critically examining their work, are going to be subjected to the harshest editors of all: a readership that today is empowered to talk back.

Jarvis may not have nailed the perfect newsroom org with a 30 percent cut for every market (there seems to be a bit of interest in college sports here). A 30 percent staffing cut in the newsroom is a near unimaginable number for most newsroom managers so considering the consequences is useful. Jarvis has come close enough on how you would do that to ignite a healthy debate on where newsroom resources should be allocated as the structural changes continue amidst a cyclical downturn.