By Adriana F. De Leon
Decreases in advertising are causing newspapers around the world to shrink and raise the specter of loss of jobs for journalists and the very survival of newspapers.
Locally, the San Antonio Express-News offered early retirement and buyout packages to employees because of an economic transition occurring around the world.
The package offered employees two weeks pay for each year employed, up to a maximum of 52 weeks.
The Express-News has about 1,100 employees and about 20 reporters were offered the package out of a total of 290 editorial employees, Tom Stephenson, Express-News president and publisher, said in a phone interview.
Twenty additional employees from throughout the news organization were also being sought for buyouts and retirement.
“We could not sustain the employment level that we had, given what’s been happening to newspapers’ revenue, so it’s just a matter of facing the reality,” he said.
Recently, daily newspapers have seen lower circulations on Sundays because younger people are not reading the newspaper, he said.
Another reason is declining key advertising areas, and it is easier for a reader to read the news on the Internet.
Advertisers that have supported newspapers are also consolidating and going through a transitional change.
“Just recently, Macy’s bought Foley’s. Well, we used to have a Macy’s and a Foley’s. Now we’ve just got a Macy’s,” he said.
Dillard’s also has cut advertising spending across the country because of competition with other department stores, causing newspapers to suffer too, he said.
Advertising has declined and the Internet is very popular; however, newspapers will never vanish, Stephenson said.
“I think newspapers will be around many, many years to come,” Stephenson said.
The Internet is a great tool if a person is interested in researching a subject or event, but the newspaper is a great tool to read a story, he said.
The newspaper accounts for about 67 percent of revenue and 33 percent comes from other sources that include the Internet, direct mail and community newspapers, he said.
“We have been diversifying our portfolio so that we’re not solely reliant on the daily newspaper to keep our business flow, and every newspaper in the country is doing the same thing,” he said.
Positions are being cut and fewer people are picking up the newspaper because the Internet is attracting more readers; however, reporters will always be needed because stories can be published in print and go online.
“Many of our journalists write for both our Web site and the newspaper and that will increase, so I think the journalist of tomorrow is going to be well-served if they have multimedia education,” he said.
The more skills a journalist has, the greater the chance that individual will get the job.
“Yesterday, we hired reporters. Today, we’re hiring people that have skills that go beyond simple reporting, so the more skills somebody has, the better the opportunity will be in the future,” he said.
Students interested in seeking a degree in journalism should not be afraid of a decline in a demand for reporters.
Reporters are needed to gather information, investigate the truth and write or report stories.
“There’s always going to be a need for people who are good writers, good thinkers and can interview subjects and write stories,” he said.