“It’s not at all surprising.”
That was the reaction by David Boardman to the announcement by the Seattle Times that it will be reducing staff. The newspaper told staff in an email that it will be offering buyouts with the potential of layoffs after that.
“It’s happening all over America,” said Boardman, who worked at the Seattle Times for 30 years. When he left in 2013, he was executive editor and senior vice president of the paper. Today, he's the dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia.
“It’s part of a long going trend now over the past decade in which newspapers are continuing to struggle to reinvent their business models,” Boardman said.
Seattle Times editor Don Shelton told the newsroom the cuts would be more significant than the last round of cuts, when 15 staff members received buyouts.
Boardman told KUOW’s Deborah Wang that if he owned the Seattle Times he would move away from a daily printed edition of the paper.
“You know, ink on dead trees, printed on giant printing presses, loaded onto trucks and delivered out to people’s doorsteps every day — that seems to me to be an archaic business model that doesn’t have a great future,” he said.
But Boardman does think that local papers can survive in the digital world. He believes the intimate relationship that readers have with newspapers can lead to targeted advertising and new kinds of business relationships that can be developed to fund newspapers. That is the big challenge he said.
“The question isn’t can they survive because they have to," he said. "The idea of a collection of highly trained, sophisticated journalists working collaboratively and particularly working as watchdogs on the elements of power in our communities — we have to have that for democracy to survive.”
Produced for the Web by Matt Martin.