Less isn’t more at the AJC

While traveling this week, we managed to overlook the grim round of staff reductions announced at the AJC.  Mostly Media did a nice job of covering it Wednesday.  And the AJC itself, in an article written by Ken Foskett and Scott Thurston, gave the in-house madness as detached an analysis as one could ask.

Advertising revenue is down due to slumps in some of the newspaper’s largest advertising categories:  Automobiles and real estate.  And classifieds have shrunk thanks to free sites like Craig’s List.  As a comment writer in Mostly Media notes, though, Craig’s List is also enduring growing pains as spammers choke the site.

The AJC is offering voluntary separation packages to nearly all of its employees who’ve been there five years or longer.  According to an in-house memo from editor Julia Wallace, those staffers have until the end of July to decide whether to bail out voluntarily or roll the dice and try to avoid future layoffs.  Some choice.

So wave bye-bye to the AJC’s separate weekly sections.  We vividly remember when the AJC duked it out with the Gwinnett Daily News in the 1980s for eyeballs in that growing county.  The AJC ended up absorbing the Gwinnett newspaper but maintained its daily Gwinnett section.  No more.  

This week’s announcement may benefit the Gwinnett Daily Post and Marietta Daily Journal.  But the financials at those papers can’t be much better than the AJC’s.

In 2007, the AJC spun its reorganization and staff cuts as a way of making the newspaper serve its readers more efficiently.  It came with a strong whiff of baloney.  But there’s no such spin now.  This is now about a once-proud major newspaper on the ropes, struggling to keep upright.

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Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

12 thoughts on “Less isn’t more at the AJC

  1. rptrcub

    (OK, going beyond the inevitable tap-dancing on the AJC’s grave which so many of my right-of-center compadres are apt to do….)

    I would have to say that smaller newspapers, especially those which are run by very, very, very stingy newspaper people like Otis Brumby (MDJ), may actually do better than larger metros. MDJ, for all of its warts and its reputation as a sweatshop training ground, can cover more of the community news of Cobb than AJC (and it might be a more appropriate place, for starters, than in the AJC).

    The problem is that the neither the MDJ nor the Gwinnett Daily Post absolutely excel at enterprise or investigative journalism — often because the reporters are greener, as well as the fact that I know that MDJ there are essentially quotas for stories.

    The content might not be great. But they still carry more of the highly local information (events, etc.) in the paper/online than the AJC ever did. And they’ve both got the steady revenue streams of required legal ads.

  2. Whippoorwill

    Their far left leaning and coverage of things like rap stars, which amazingly sometimes ends up on the front page (who cares?), have made them somewhat irrelevant to many of us.

  3. Fence Sitter

    Print media has yet to find an effective response to the internet. Of course, their task may end the same as the attempts by buggy whip manufacturers to find an effective response to the horse-less carriage.

  4. yepps

    Um… Hi Whippoorwill. Welcome to Atlanta. You are obviously new to this city. We have a lot of African American folks who live here — not to mention a lot of open-minded folks and people who like hip-hop (or as you say, rap stars). Atlanta has become a headquarters for hip-hop music. So — a lot of people care. I’m sure the Nashville paper has country stars on the front page. You’d be ok with that I guess though, right? Hope you enjoy your new home here in our fair city!

  5. Erik

    Like it or not, the AJC has cheapened its image and devalued its currency in recent years through slavish coverage of total-crap subjects (including hip hop stars, Elton John’s shopping trips, the dreadful Bynum-Weeks “divorce” story, to name a few). Check The Tennessean (Nashville’s daily) website or the Los Angeles Times and you simply won’t find the sort of routine coverage of those cities’ respective “celebrities.” They’ve also allowed their Op-Ed page to become toothless and snarky (but not in a fun way) and essentially turned the website over to do-it-yourself blogs filled with inches and inches of childish ravings from apparent miscreants. Left-leaning politics (would that it were so) is hardly the newspaper’s problem.

  6. statepark

    They (the AJC) underreports serious crime and hardly ever will give suspect descriptions, i.e. race, height, build, hair, etc. This is in keeping with their social-engineering agenda.

    I hope they choke on it.

  7. Newsguy

    Off-Topic: Doug, I am watching the MSNBC documentary on Derwin Brown’s assassination in 2000, and there you are! Do you get excited when you make cameos on tv?

  8. Whippoorwill

    Um… Hi yepps. I’m a native Georgian (been here all my 46 years) and proudly not an Atlantan. And you verified exactly what I’m saying. By having tunnel vision inside the city limits, the AJC has become irrelevant to the economic engine that surrounds it.

    Probably would be smart for all Atlanta media to remember their entire audience does not live in the ATL.

    By the way, no need to throw in the comment about Nashville and infer I’m a redneck. I don’t care about ANY entertainment “news,” no matter the genre. Expand your horizions-take a ride outside the city sometime.

  9. broderickphoto

    I had always wondered why the AJC had a daily section for Gwinnett and not the other areas. It’s sad, but it’s also bewildering how they have so much of their paper online and then expect folks to want to pay for it in paper form. I do feel for all of the journalists who are affected by this..


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