Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Signs of the Times

With an economic downturn, there has been a sea-change among corporations in their struggle to remain afloat. The traditional approach to bad business news has been the was WotC/Hasbro handled its layoffs - stern, tightly written letter from the management that minimizes and regrets the loss and reassures that this is just a small matter in the larger and greater triumph of industry.

But as everyone from the NFL to NPR is laying people off and cutting back, a new mood of bold and heroic desperation is taking hold. Now there are no regrets but rather a focusing on how brave and honest the corporates are too be taking these strong, determined actions in these horrible times. We should be appreciative we have such wise captains of business to see us through as they throw children off the sleigh to the pursuing wolves.

This is particularly true over at the Seattle Times, whose not-so-slow diminishment I have ended up chronicling as a consumer. Previously the editorial page was butchered and the Business happy-news tucked into the main page. Now the local reporting and the entertainment/modern living/comics section saw a space-time collapsing into a single section. Said collapsing has all the elegance of two freight trains slamming into each other, and there were casualties. The NY Times crossword was banished to online. The macabre Lio, urban Candorville and innocuous On A Claire Day comic strips were pushed into shallow graves. The Wednesday recipes are no more. Celebrity gossip now has to compete with local politics (and sometimes wins).

And this was heralded by a full column running for a week detailing the changes, and a declaration that they are trying to reduce their two biggest costs - newsprint and manpower. In other words, product and content. Isn't that what I'm paying for in the first place? The stuff that brings my eyeballs to the paper which the advertiser pay for? I'm not here for the ads from Fry's, folks.

I think that all businesses will evolve over time, I refuse to give those in charge a cookie just for being so forthright as they slice away from their very product they are selling in order to survive. Triage is necessary, but not heroic.

More later,