Author Topic: Newspapers Need to Re-Think Everything  (Read 238 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Ken Gigliotti

  • Retired Professional
  • Posts: 278
      • Email
Newspapers Need to Re-Think Everything
« on: March 27, 2017, 12:31 PM »
Newspapers Need to Re-Think Survival -Really; by Ken Gigliotti March 2017

It is a sad day on the west coast as Postmedia lays off 50 people including 29 journalists  and the east coast is faring no better with the Chronicle Herald on strike for over a year. Other papers are in the same boat as contracts expire.

In a global sense  heritage news is in the cross hairs of a globalized harmonization of information. Thinking local is a mistake. Vancouver and British Columbia as well as the East coast are the most interesting places in the world. They should be writing to the world.

It is not just the decline of newspapers and local news ,it is also democracy at the same time. Capitalism is consuming itself in a race to the bottom, and the bottom is near. You won't read that in a newspaper.

No one is coming to help a business owned by billionaires and millionaires. Workers, managers and ownership need to create the condition for survival. Cost cutting has been going on since 1988 when the angle of decent was forming.

If we just look at the newspaper business  as a product then the product can be improved . If we see it as more than that, then we have to fight for what it stands for. Either way doing nothing but fallowing technological trends leaves us lagging , standing in the same spot. Pushing a repeating cycle of content is making the product irrelevant.

The demographics of the “deplorables” are being pushed to take more risk in thinking. Internet scavenging serves the new order. Herds are moving away from information networks that wear blinders to their issues. Mainstream news has many blind spots that are being exploited by other riskier media.

Desperation is driving politics and it should be driving the newspaper business.

Newspapers gave up too soon on “comments.” Our customers were trying to tell us something and we took the easy way out. The first experience with new ideas often needs rethinking and reworking to a final acceptable result. Our business did not like being talked back to.

It seems journalism has defaulted to “racism,” as in going the same well too many times. The failure to dig deeper into the origins of ignorance and historic falsehoods that lay beneath the mainstream are failures of journalism. These are failures of smart people  to hear ,see and comprehend.

EXAMPLE :The rash of so called hate crimes in the last few months in Canada and the USA have yielded personal motives and mental health issues rather than religious/political hate that media logic jumped to without any basis in fact. Hate was wrongly substituted for vandalism.

The numbers don't lie. When “the deal” that closed newspapers across Canada in 1980 and laid off so many people the last paragraphs of the stories read like the bottom lines of this one. The Winnipeg Tribune, Ottawa Journal and a host of other small papers ,  Postmedia has lost too much money ($325million in the last full year, $263million in the year before) and it is not going to stop. The Times Colonist merger was a product of the 1980  closings as Thomson and Southam closed or merged papers across Canada.

A correction is going on, live to fight another day.

EXAMPLE: In the biography of (Bill) Parcells a Football Life , the author gives the best and examples  description of “confrontational coaching.” Bill Parcells was a coach that specialized in turning around under performing teams, losing teams that acquired good players through the draft but the history of losing became a culture of loosing.

His simple statement to his players was “that they are, what their record said they are.” He turned teams with a  “loosing culture” into teams that got to the playoffs, , contended or won in  divisional play and Super Bowl Champions.  He “never discounted stupidity as being a factor, because it's always in there somewhere.” in losing cultures. He was also a cover story for Forbes Magazine for increasing the value of teams he coached for .

There are too many players in the media market place and the average person is losing there foothold on solid economic ground. It is not just newspapers at stake , and stakes are high as the pressure is being turned up on voters to establish 4 year ruling regimes.

This like the French Revolution and the American Revolution and vast migrations of people from Ireland ,Scotland and the rest of the world to the United States and Canada during the 1700's and 1800's till today. These were not just migrations and armed revolts but the collapse of ways of life with the decline of feudalism and the rise of capitalism. Global change from past to future for the “deplorables.” They made us great from the  bottom ,up.

The digital revolution like the others from earlier times has created portals into our open and free society. Our open societies are being taken advantage of. Business is being hacked, personal information monitored, medical information volunteered, and special interest groups pay for play ,democracy itself is being short circuited. Weak journalism is a confounding factor and it is not a coincidence. Our culture has made us the enemy to ourselves and others , but we can change. We are seeing bottom up change with top down  influence.Newspapers play a roll in the decline. It is what it looks like.

Read, Blow It All Up Billionaires by Vicky Ward ,Huffington Post. A billionaire “housewife” bankrolled a custom news service  and used sophisticated math science to change the largest democracy in the world. Too much information has been volunteered and analytic has become sophisticated in ways that should make people in free societies very afraid. ( Ward called instigator a “house wife”on a recent Charlie Rose episode 3-17 2017)

The newspaper business is still chasing quarters. Actual quarters not the ones on calender.

Lets face it .Some chains are not built to last.

Journalism is  waiting to be saved when it needs to save itself.

Unions and managers can figure out a solution , we are smart people but historic  automated responses are not going to work. Unions can guarantee cost certainty and companies can guarantee production. These are not opposing forces.
But there is no trust.

Ownership has to become partners with workers to find think-till-it-hurts solutions. The newspaper business is a product that comes from the imaginations of its workers , everyday a blank page.

Think-till-hurts thinking is fueling digital engineering, internet growth. Tradition plays no roll. It has no tradition, it moves from every direction ,it pulls from every culture, it is free thinking.

OTHER THOUGHTS: Think personal instead of local , think user instead of reader,  re-think comments, abandon correctness. Seek an eyes wide open re-think like the ones that created the Dallas Cowboys (the first NFL team to use a computerized Draft , see The Cowboys Indian, the programmer was from India, they scouted small black colleges ( at a time (1960's)when the city of Dallas was considered one of the most racist cities in the US, they turned the cheer leading squad into an international brand ) ,Aggressive re-think saved General Motors.

The  Apple company fired Steve Jobs the company he helped found then came back to the “pirate “mentality” emphasizing product development over marketing.  Newspapers  can change into a completely new product.

 All bold moves , not incremental thinking.

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady , won his record 5th Super Bowl helped his own cause by restructuring a 4 year $75million contract. By renegotiating to a five year deal he reduced the teams salary cap hit. The cap space helped the team become more successful, therefore helping to keep him healthy. (being able to have better protection and working longer). Many sports teams over pay their stars to the detriment of the overall team. This shorten the star players own longevity, strains payroll and reduces championships. The Patriots also play “money ball”,trade more players, get veterans to work for less to be on Super Bowl contender/winners.

Institutional approaches may not be in order, the world is evolving faster than we think.On CBC's Saturday morning business segment ,BlueCat co-founder Michael Hyatt said in the next 7 years , a lot sooner that most think , the next major challenge will be job losses due to  automation and artificial intelligence. More innovation from the digital economy.
Truck and taxi drivers , office workers , any medium/low skill , medium to high pay jobs will be next to be lost on an epic scale. The new innovation item in the Canadian budget will help contribute to the job loss and three year write off as a business expense. The worker is under attack, job creation will be a challenge because business is try to get rid of WORKERS and the hidden expenses of WORKERS.   

There are arguments on both sides. What team would you like to play for? Truth is messy. Journalists play in the rarefied air of exceptional-ism, being smart and practical is a hallmark. Save yourself and save the business and wait for a better days are the options. I am sure this issue is on the minds of many people as contracts coming up for negotiation. Opinion by Ken Gigliotti March 2017

« Last Edit: March 28, 2017, 10:29 AM by Ken Gigliotti »

Offline Ken Gigliotti

  • Retired Professional
  • Posts: 278
      • Email
Re: Newspapers Need to Re-Think Everything
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2017, 01:18 PM »
Ken Gigliotti is a right-wing , anti-union, illiterate ,a-hole. Journalists, DO love labels. BUT, I know everyone is thinking it. So I am replying to myself, again.
No, no, yes, yes. I guess they were only half wrong.
When I introduced these ideas more than six-seven years go and just two years before our last contract, my co-workers jumped all over me. BUT, many re-read them and started to wonder if there wasn't another way to solve the stress of contract negotiations. They thought it was pie in the sky and wanted me to  “shut my pie whole”and cow pied the idea. Really, fear of  words and ideas from journalists.

The History;It was two years before the expiry of a company wide labour agreement. Management held meetings with employees for a decade over several publishers explaining how the business was in a down turn. People were afraid, very afraid of the up coming negotiations.

I proposed an eyes wide open approach. We all knew that ,All segments of the operation worked well together everyday. Why could they not “work this out over coffee.” Union workers included pressmen ,production , sales,circulation, editorial and even home delivery was unionized. (one past publisher thought it was a good cost cutting measure to get adult carriers so they could drive themselves to depots to pick up papers. The adults unionized as an unintended consequence.)

I proposed alternative  ideas ,a few crazy ideas that included a living contract that would eliminate bargaining until one or both decided walk away.

I got an email from publisher who was intrigued. The management was and still is very progressive.

Then I realized that the main issue between union and management was historic distrust. A lot of bad blood is the ethos of every union/management but over the years our company found itself for the first time with no major disputes.

Then back to me with the labels and insults , but once people got over the breaking of tradition , and the younger and older workers who knew they were going to be effected took more interest in the mechanisms of negotiation wanted to make sure they were heard.

Formal negotiations end one of two ways. One is going on strike , spending all your savings, losing wages the settling for the original offer or something near it.

Managers and workers hate negotiations because they have to deal with each other afterwards. It costs money to prepare for a strike.

The union and managers must have got together a month before bargaining. It turns out the 20% cut was negotiable ,but the companies real interest was in pension liability. It was not sustainable .

The deal was that current contract would not reduce wages to current employees,but would reduce the wages of new employees ,it also closed the current pension and set a date for anyone leaving to take their pension with them .

So the wage issue was kicked down the road and the company had a two tier wage system.

Wages would not increase until the final year and the increase was minimal. The agreement was for 5 years with virtually no increase but the pension had a chance to succeed. Counting cost of living this was a 15% loss to  employees but they had jobs. New employees where enrolled into a different pension.
The biggest complaint was on principle of two tier system. It turns out new people just wanted a job and the contribution pension was not an issue.
Some workers who felt they had being doing more with less wanted a pay increase. A pay increase would have meant lay offs and more work with fewer people. It is really a tug of war.

The five years that passed would see a very different company as anyone wanting to retire did. For every 2 people at top rate  who retired 3 new people at  entry level could be hired , and were hired.
New and more  people came into the system. Help was on the way. This was not a perfect deal for everyone.

Top rate people who had about 8 years experience in the newsroom could see the writing on the wall and left. A whole generation who had experience were well trained were able to be picked up by other companies. More people were hired.

People who were so afraid took there pensions out at age 55 and quit. This was an unintended consequence. No one knows the future.

The thing was that people had control of their lives, they made decisions on their own terms. The paper was hiring when everyone was laying off.

The management and unions took a progressive  move. Things are the way they are and another contract will always come up. The five year deal kept the union from loosing every time they went to the table. Most unions are traditionally opposed to long contracts.

The deal was progressive and provided long term cost certainty. It turns out that was a big deal to the company.

Not everyone was happy , everyone thought they got screwed, in bargaining that is a successful deal. Everyone had the luxury of complaining, and everyone who wanted to work was working. Both parties sought trust but did not know it could be done.  Not an Opinion by That A-hole Ken Gigliotti March 2017

Footnote , some info was from another email to management on innovative  corporate thinking based on The Dallas Cowboys  by Nick Patoski ,  Cowboys founder Clint Murchison was actually a real “pirate” as the good times loving owner also owned a Pirate Radio ship broadcasting  banned rock music to England.  Also Bob Lutz ,Car Guy ran GM through it's restructuring , and The Steve Jobs Way ,by Jay Elliot

« Last Edit: March 29, 2017, 02:35 PM by Ken Gigliotti »