AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   October 1995


By Suzan Revah
Suzan Revah is a former AJR associate editor.     

Newspaper Blues

North Carolina's Winston-Salem Journal lays off 45 employees in the first round of a cost-cutting program. Up to 45 more could be laid off over the next two months as the paper's owner, Media General, attempts to boost income through budget cuts. The cuts inspire Joseph Goodman , the beleaguered paper's managing editor, to quit abruptly.... The Richmond Times-Dispatch , another Media General paper, will be reducing staff, from 930 to 908, by December 1996... Cox's Dayton Daily News also announces plans to cut costs, possibly including layoffs as early as this fall. The cuts, which may include a reduction in overtime and part time positions, are blamed, predictably, on increasing newsprint costs... Employees at the Quincy Patriot Ledger in Massachusetts agree to take unpaid leave for two weeks in an effort to stave off the layoffs of 14 employees. Citing newsprint price increases in addition to disappointing advertising sales, management presented union representatives with a list of people who would have lost their jobs had the 150 full time editorial workers not agreed to the furlough.

NBC Online

NBC announces the launch of its new online service, on none other than Bill Gates' Microsoft Network. NBC SuperNet, as the service is called, debuted along with Windows 95 and offers interactive areas for sports and entertainment, as well as original news content that boasts graphic quality rivaling CD-ROM. As part of SuperNet, NBC News creates a new editorial unit that will report and produce news packages exclusively for NBC News online, drawing on information from the NBC News archives to provide breadth and context. The new unit currently has six staff members and is headed by Allison Davis , formerly a producer at the "Today" show for 11 years. "My job now is like the jobs of the people who were working for television in the '50s," says Davis. "I think my grandkids will know I had something to do with [the pioneering of interactive television], and that's gratifying."

Mistaken Identity

London's Evening Standard finds itself in the unenviable position of having to apologize to Bryan Gould , of Britain's Labour Party, for inadvertently attaching his name to an article espousing several views diametrically opposed to his own. The crow-eating gesture follows what Evening Standard Editor Stewart Steven explains as "an extraordinary mischance" that took place when two faxes arrived within half an hour of one another, one containing an article written by Gould and another containing an uncommissioned and anonymous article highly critical of current Labour leader Tony Blair . The anonymous article, which took Blair to task for supposedly pushing the Labour Party to the right, was published under Gould's byline. But it turned out to have been written by Nick Howard , the son of a senior government minister in the rival Conservative Party. Gould didn't buy the Standard's explanation for the gaffe and, after filing an action with Britain's Press Complaints Commission, reached a settlement with the paper for an undisclosed amount.

Around Magazines

There goes that revolving door again. U.S. News & World Report rehires David Gergen , who left the news-weekly in 1993 to become counselor to President Clinton, as editor at large.... Wall Street Journal reporter Viveca Novak moves to Time magazine to work the money and politics beat, in addition to covering Capitol Hill... Jeffrey Dearth , president of The New Republic for the past seven years, joins Mecklermedia Corp. as group president of the publisher and trade show sponsor's magazine and Web site division. Dearth, no stranger to the Internet, is also the founder and CEO of the Electronic Newsstand, an online magazine marketing service (see Free Press, July/August 1994). New Republic Publisher Joan Stapleton , a 15-year veteran of the Washington weekly, replaces Dearth as president. Stapleton is the first woman to hold the position in the magazine's 80-year history.

Broadcast News

Fox names Emily Rooney , former executive producer for ABC 's "World News Tonight," director of political coverage for the '96 elections. Rooney left ABC in 1994.... CNN announces plans for post-O.J. life that include the development of a daily evening newscast focusing on international news, to be called "CNN WorldView," and the addition of "CNN Today," a midday program of news, sports, weather and live interviews... ABC News names Rex Granum London bureau chief and director of news coverage for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Granum, a 14-year ABC veteran, was most recently the network's southern bureaus chief.... "Dateline NBC" correspondent Jon Scott rejoins the world of tabloid television, becoming the newest anchor of "A Current Affair." Scott has worked for a tabloid before, having served as a correspondent for "Inside Edition."

On the Infobahn

ABC Radio Networks announces the launch of the ABC Radio World Wide Web site, which provides 24-hour audio news and information updates to Internet users.... The Atlanta Journal and Constitution names Michael Gordon to the newly created position of director of The Interactive Studio, the Cox-owned paper's online operation, which hosts the Journal-Constitution's online edition as well as other products, such as an Olympics home page on the Web.

Electronic Rights

The New York Times announces a tough new policy on electronic freelancing that has outraged many who write for the prestigious paper. The policy, which requires freelancers to give up future rights to anything they write for the paper, sets a somewhat harsh precedent in the industry, which until now had generally favored licensing on a one time or limited-use basis. The Times maintains that its position on the new policy is "unambiguous," going on to say that "if someone does not sign an agreement, he or she will no longer be published in this newspaper." Effectively barring freelancers from receiving additional payments should their work be republished electronically, the new policy drew much criticism from several national writers' groups, many of whom fear that other newspapers will follow the Times' lead. Several angry journalists participating in online journalism forums added to the fury, filling the bandwidth with expressions of disgust. For its part, the Times says the policy is part of the paper's effort to secure content ownership as its online publishing ventures expand, but few freelancers see the need for such sweeping authority.

Around Newspapers

Knight-Ridder names Gary Blonston chief of its Washington bureau, replacing Rich Oppel , who left to become editor of the Austin American-Statesman (see Bylines, July/August). Blonston had been the bureau's news editor and was favored by colleagues for the top spot... Tracy Barnett , jack-of-all-trades with Investigative Reporters & Editors for the past four years, becomes a reporter for the Watsonville bureau of California's Santa Cruz Sentinel .... Arizona's Daily Herald and Today's Daily News merge to become Today's News Herald , ending a long-running newspaper war in Lake Havasu City... The Atlanta Journal and Constitution gets some new competition as the Gwinett Post-Tribune , formerly a thrice weekly local paper for Gwinett, a suburban county on the outskirts of Atlanta, becomes a Tuesday-through-Saturday daily, the Gwinett Daily Post .