Friday, May 25, 2012

Can the Seattle Times Still Afford to Have an Opinion?

Posted by on Fri, May 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Longtime Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur announced today that she will no longer be writing her current Tuesday and Friday news(ish) columns. Instead, Brodeur will be writing Sundays in the paper's NW Arts & Life section about NW arts and life, I guess, while essentially producing a gossip column ("parties, fundraisers, kickoffs") in her old Tuesday spot. She's the new Jean Godden.

This move comes on the heels of Joni Balter's apparent demotion from the editorial board to the post of assistant deputy metro editor or something. Makes one wonder if even bigger changes are afoot?

It also makes me wonder how in this age of declining readership and revenue, newspapers like the Seattle Times can even afford to hire columnists like Brodeur? Nothing personal—Brodeur seems like a nice lady and all that—but for years now she's presumably been earning a living wage plus benefits to write, what? Fourteen hundred words a week?

And that makes Brodeur a workaholic compared to the five members of the paper's editorial board, which over the first four days of this work week have collectively managed to publish 7 editorials for a total of 2,300 words. To their credit, both Bruce Ramsey and Lance Dickey have also turned out a 600-word column each, with Ramsey adding a 500-word blog post, but combined, the output from each of the paper's five editorial writers averages only 200 words a day. That's 44 words less than I've typed so far in this one post alone. In fact, I'd wager that the average Stranger writer posts more to Slog in a day than most Seattle Times columnists write in a week—and that's not counting that pesky weekly newspaper we have to put out.

Of course, quantity and quality are two different things... but I don't think the Seattle Times editorial board wants to go there. The point is, for a newspaper that's struggling to find a 21st century business model, I just can't see how they can continue to afford to pay so many columnists to produce 1990's-era output.

Whatever. I've got more thoughts on the subject, but I've got 500 words due at 3PM for next week's news section on top of the 1,700 word feature I've already turned in. And then there's that backlog of other Slog posts I need to write. It's an exhausting schedule. All the more reason at my advanced age that I'm so looking forward to snagging that cushy editorial writer position I've applied for at the Seattle Times. I think of it as a kinda early retirement.


Comments (16) RSS

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bgk 1
I love these posts Goldy!
Posted by bgk on May 25, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 2
Isn't there a service that tracks circulation numbers? I remember even seeing (cribbed from various news sources going back to the year 2000) a list posted in Slog comments that showed the steady failure of the Seattle Times and their dying circulation numbers.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on May 25, 2012 at 1:09 PM · Report this
bedipped 3
Stranger Times has a nice ring to it.
Posted by bedipped on May 25, 2012 at 1:18 PM · Report this
I missed Joni Balter's demotion. You just made my holiday weekend. Thanks man.
Posted by capicola on May 25, 2012 at 1:20 PM · Report this
"on the heals"?
Posted by My inner editor got the best of me, sorry on May 25, 2012 at 1:28 PM · Report this
I know Jean Godden. And Nicole Brodeur's no Jean Godden.
Posted by J.R. on May 25, 2012 at 1:35 PM · Report this
Goldy 7
@5: I'd like to claim it was a clever pun. But it was just a typo. I suppose I'd be more careful if I was paid as much a word as the Times ed board.
Posted by Goldy on May 25, 2012 at 1:46 PM · Report this
And, at least in the education editorials, they get their facts wrong. You can tell them, show them the evidence and they still won't correct themselves.

Very hard to take what they say seriously.
Posted by westello on May 25, 2012 at 1:47 PM · Report this
Bodeur makes much, much more than a living wage.
Posted by Former Times Hack on May 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Keister Button 10
Former PI reporter Monica Guzman has been hired by the Seattle Times to write a column. I can't see how someone who likes to write about changes at the Seattle Times would miss that.
Posted by Keister Button on May 25, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Report this
You are a hoot, Goldy. It's gonna be awesome if the Times has the balls to hire you- I might re-subscribe for that!
Posted by Duvall-ite on May 25, 2012 at 2:59 PM · Report this
Brodeur was a sleepy writer from the beginning. Now, however, she is worked up: she understands there is a war (of sorts, using Fox News' lingo) on women and she's pissed. One of her first columns said, "I'm not a feminist, but..." and then went on to support all issues supported by feminists. Then she went to sleep. Now that she is fired up, she's moved. Maybe the Times-Picayune has it right.
Posted by Algernon on May 25, 2012 at 4:13 PM · Report this
Dude, forget the open slot. Can you angle for Lynne Varner's job? Puhleeeeaaaase.
Posted by Roses on May 25, 2012 at 7:27 PM · Report this
DOUG. 14
Remember when Nicole Brodeur crossed the picket line and gave her colleagues a very public middle finger? What a peach.
Posted by DOUG. on May 25, 2012 at 8:16 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 15
The Seattle times -- the 2nd best free newspaper in Seattle!
Posted by wilbur@work on May 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM · Report this
Goldy--tell them at the job interview that if you get this editorial writing gig, I will resubscribe.
Posted by Emily68 on May 28, 2012 at 6:04 AM · Report this

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