Washington Times, the paper of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, has announced it will be going to free distribution and laying off at least 40 percent of its staff. Which positions won’t make the cut? Well, one that’s been mentioned is that of editor.
That’s right; former editor John Solomon resigned last month after less than a year at the Times, and the company’s new president and publisher, Jonathan Slevin, told the Washington Post that “there is no search for a Solomon successor and that his job may not be filled under a reorganization.” Who, exactly, will be in charge of news content in the absence of an editor is unclear.
Over at the Dallas Morning News, meanwhile, who will be in charge of news content was made painfully clear to several section editors on Wednesday: the sales department. In a memo to staff at the News and A.H. Belo‘s other papers, editor Bob Mong and senior vice president of sales Cyndy Carr told editors of departments ranging from sports and entertainment to health and education that they would be reporting to sales managers instead of the editor, as part of the paper’s “bold new strategies” of “business/news integration.”
As Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer commented (Unfair Park, 12/3/09), “In short, those who sell ads for A.H. Belo‘s products will now dictate content within A.H. Belo‘s products, which is a radical departure from the way newspapers have been run since, oh, forever.”
It’s not entirely radical, given that the vaunted wall between the news and business ends of newspapers have been steadily eroding over the years. (See Extra!‘s annual Fear & Favor reports.) But at a certain point, it seems like you have to stop calling yourself a news outlet and admit you’re just an advertising supplement.