980 journalists!!!!!!

Roy Greenslade on Why cutbacks in US papers may not be all bad

I admire Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post’s media commentator because his articles are almost always on the button. But I am not so certain about the message in his latest piece. He points to the staff cutbacks at many US papers, citing the redundancy announcements at the Dallas Morning News (19%), the Cleveland Plain Dealer (17%), the Philadelphia Inquirer (15% already, with more to follow), the Washington Post (8%) and the Los Angeles Times (10%). He also notes that TV networks are pruning news staff too. Then he records some of American journalism’s successes in rooting out important stories. You can probably see where this is going. His conclusion? If too many journalists disappear it means “fewer bodies to pore over records at city hall, the statehouse or federal agencies.”

Well, it does, and it doesn’t. Without wishing to be unduly rude about US journalists, seen from the British perspective, it appears that there are far too many of them being far too unproductive. The LA Times has 980 journalists at present, a huge staff compared to any serious British national paper. Yet we manage to hold our government to account. Ask Tony Blair is he can get away with anything without being scrutinised…