FEEDING THE HAND THAT BIT THEM
With the departure of John Humenik to Madison, Wis., the Arizona Daily Star is searching for a new president and publisher. Among the locations it is advertising this position: craigslist.org.
If the historians responsible for chronicling the demise of the daily print journalism model don't spend a lengthy section on the impact of Craigslist, they are doing the issue an immense disservice. When printing newspaper was akin to printing money, the chief reason for fat profit margins was classified advertising.
Certainly, the Internet as a whole changed that. But it was Craigslist that centralized it, that localized it, and for whatever reason got people's eyes to it. So now, instead of waiting for the print edition to come out after you've paid for an ad to sell your car or house or promote your yard sale, you can get results instantly and get them free. And you're going to get a response because people are going to Craigslist these days to look for those things.
It works with job hunters as well. Which must have been the mentality behind the decision at the corporate level.
Bobbie Jo Buel, who is holding down the top spot at the Star in an interim capacity, says she did not approve the placement of the ad, which is publicizing the company's top job on the website that is probably most responsible for gutting its profit margin.
It seems a tad bizarre to use Craigslist, a venue noteworthy for peddling iPhones and casual encounters, as one of the options in the search for somebody to keep your media product afloat.
This is a fairly significant position, one that requires a deep understanding of the newspaper industry and how it functions. It's safe to assume this sort of position will be occupied by someone with a lot of newspaper experience. And someone who has that experience might be aware of the opening on, say, a journalism site job board.
So how does someone at the corporate level connect the dots and come to the conclusion that it's worth posting an ad on craigslist because the next person responsible for running the largest newspaper in a city of a million-plus folks (with a dwindling daily circulation now below 80,000) might stumble across it?
"Boy, I'm a high-level muckety-muck with an extensive journalism background who's really bored. I think, uh, Tucson would be a neat place to relocate. Let me check out the business/management section on tucson.craigslist.org and see if there happens to be an opening."
Of course, there's always the possibility the ad could be a spam cut-and-paste, a common craigslist issue. But as of early this week it was still up. Here's hoping that ad leads the city's newspaper of record to some high-caliber candidates. And not some random troller who got lost en route to the discussion forum on haikus.
Paper like the breeze
Blowing as content declines
LANTZ AMONG NEW HIRES AT KUAZ
Arizona Public Media has been setting the standard for media jobs in the market. For months, the NPR affiliate has been advertising to fill slots. It's the only organization with a radio component doing any real expansion at all.
It also plays by a different set of rules. NPR affiliate KUAZ 89.1 FM operates under the auspices of Arizona Public Media, which also handles the day-to-day television operation of PBS affiliate KUAT Channel 6. The funding derives from a combination of donations and government assistance, while privately operated media outlets depend on advertisers.
What AZPM does with the money in its coffers theoretically plays a role in dictating how effective future fundraising is, and it appears that AZPM's approach will be enhancing its coverage of local programming in the months ahead.
You'll be hearing a number of new voices on the airwaves, including Rob Lantz, who will anchor the news on the Tucson edition of Morning Edition.
"I'm excited for the new opportunity at Arizona Public Media and the new challenges it will represent," Lantz said. "A local presence is vital for radio in any community, and it's a fantastic opportunity working for a company that sees the value in that, and a management team that recognizes the importance of real community involvement and has the confidence in me to see that vision through."
Lantz is plenty familiar with Tucson, having lived here most of his life. He comes to AZPM after 12 years at sports-talk station KCUB 1290 AM, the last three as program director. He also was a co-host of In the House, the station's local talk offering from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Lantz also co-hosted pre- and postgame broadcasts for UA football and men's basketball games.
AZPM is on the verge of adding more voices, which could set the stage for transitioning other talent into more localized roles, thus building upon its local approach.
If radio ratings took into account KUAZ's impact, the station would rank about fourth in listenership in the market. At this point in the process, the radio product appears to have a leg up over what's occurring on the television side at AZPM, and that will likely continue until AZPM figures out what it wants to accomplish with the visual disaster that is Arizona Illustrated.