Media Waters Getting Colder and Colder

The shrinkage of newsrooms at Virginia’s commercial newspapers continues apace. Lee Enterprises, owners of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Daily Progress, and Roanoke Times, among other newspapers, have confirmed another round of layoffs.

The RTD has eliminated positions for a business reporter, a photojournalist, a multimedia content provider, and a sports producer. Meanwhile, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises has cut 10 copy editing and design jobs at the Roanoke Times as part of  plan to centralize page design. And the Daily Progress has lost two news staff, including a digital content coordinator, reports Virginia Business.

Also, disclosed Virginia Business, the Daily Progress‘ four-person copy desk in Charlottesville will be laid off in October as part of Lee Enterprises’ centralization of copy editing functions. While those important functions will continue to be fulfilled, there is no way that out-of-state copy editors can replicate the local knowledge of home-based editors.

Once upon a time, there was hope that commercial newspapers might preserve their newsrooms by transitioning to digital medial platforms, that digital advertising might replace at least some print advertising. Notice who’s getting laid off: a multimedia content provider at the RTD and a digital content coordinator at the Daily Progress. Whatever those staffers are serving up in the way of digital content apparently is not paying for itself.

— JAB

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39 responses to “Media Waters Getting Colder and Colder

  1. Now will Bob Brown retire? Or Schapiro? 🙂 I mean, how does a company named for the most hated racist icon in American history (Marse Robert) expect to succeed? It is painful to watch the decline, but the final outcome is not in doubt. Before they are done, the owners will get their profit margin up and up and squeeze quite a few bucks out in the last couple of years.

  2. This is a classic private equity squeeze play, whether or not executed by private equity players.

    1) Find a company with solid cash flow even if it is struggling and shrinking
    2) Borrow money at low interest rates to buy the company described in 1) above
    3) Cut costs (i.e. layoffs) at the purchased company, make no investments in the future, squeeze as much cash out as possible
    4) Pay off the debt and pocket the value of anything remaining as profit
    5) Declare bankruptcy and move on

    For all the blather about Trump mollycoddling the rich it has only been in the Trump Administration that the outright fraud of hedge funds claiming investment tax rates for carried income has been effectively challenged. While I understand that the matter is still not full resolved it seems the shameless carried interest loophole will be closed while Trump is president. You know, kind of like the SALT caps were implemented to prevent wealthy urban dwellers from deducting bloated local and state taxes and property costs.

    Will Biden / Harris revoke the SALT caps and lower my taxes? Want to bet?

      • Yes, Biden will restore the SALT deduction, a massive tax cut for the upper income folks.

        • And the MSM and the liberal commentators on this blog will be stone silent when he does. Tax cuts for the wealthy are fine so long as they are passed by Democrats. I’ll be happy. Maybe I’ll donate half of my Biden tax cuts to Republican / libertarian political candidates.

          • tax cuts financed by selling more treasury notes is not something that I recall we accepted as legitimate policy before – in fact, for decades, Conservatives and GOP have warned us that this is how the Dems do business and to be beware.

            Now.. it’s just “beware” – the Dems will tax us AND make the deficits worse!

            blah blah blah slurp that koolaid…

            and not at all that idea is promoted by someone who inherited wealth then frittered it away on bad casino investments and the like.

            Yep – we got the right formula now for making American Great Again!

            Deficits? What deficits? No such thing when the Dems are not in charge!

            😉

        • Wait. I”m rich, accused of anyway, and I’ll take the $27k standard deduction. Of course, paying taxes on taxes has for years been the battle cry of the Conservative hordes.

          • I think you should try to claim that $27K std deduction on your taxes. Which ironically says you don’t do your own taxes, as it’s not now nor has it ever been $27k.

          • Ah, you young whipper snapper. Think. Then think again.

            I wrote an eXcel spreadsheet for the 1040 when they passed Trump’s mess. Takes me 20 minutes to do my taxes.

            Tax reform. Take my 5-page return, add 5 new schedules and that’s tax “reform”

          • You wrote an Excel spreadsheet? So you wrote the VB behind it or you filled in boxes with equations?

            Again, standard deductions have not nor never have they ever been $27k.

            https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-tax-inflation-adjustments-for-tax-year-2020#:~:text=For%20single%20taxpayers%20and%20married,tax%20year%202020%2C%20up%20%24300.

            Std. Ded. $24,800 for 2020 up $400 from last year.

            Tax reform would be a flat tax that doesn’t cater to anyone and treats everyone the same.

            PS: if you’re using schedules you’re not taking standard deductions.

          • Hint, you young whipper snapper. Plus $2,600 for a couple over 65.

            All equations with a fill-in sheet for 1099s, W2, etc. The only thing not done, because my Adobe is old, is to map the spreadsheet to the fill-in forms.

            It’s 1040, sched1-5, A,B,D and the SocSec, and QDLTCG tax calcs.

          • The tax calculations and the AMT I did in VB macro, all else is done in the sheet, equations in the bocks. It also makes the decision as to std deduct or to use sced A.

            It’s easy to do it. I spent two days to write it, another checking it. As long as I encode the “what’s new” stuff. It’ll handle me for the next 20 years.

            Next year, I’ll add the VA760.

            Not reform as in change for the better, “reform” as in changing forms.

          • You might have to step up your game to do the 760 and afterwards, do not move to another state unless you like masochism.

          • Actually, if i could upload it to BR, I’d give it away.

            It comes in handy for deciding how much Trad to recharacterize to Roth. BTW, depending on how big your Trad is, how much you make in dividends and gains, recharacterizing could cost you big time.

            Don’t do it unless you calculate the tax cost of $1 first. It can cost you the marginal tax PLUS 15%.

            The Biden change to 401(k)/IRA looks beneficial compared to the tax bomb that these things can become.

          • Oh well fancy that, shouldn’t you be praising Trump and his “tax reform” then? I mean without that travesty of a Law you wouldn’t get that additional amount.

            I do hate to be a nitpicker though, but you might want to check your clacs as it would be $27.4k. I don’t want you to short yourself that $400.

            I’m glad that you could figure out excel to the lengths that you’ve done, considering you’ve claimed vast programmer knowledge.

            PS: Why make a macro, open VB and right a sub-routine. It’s under the developer tab just like all Microsoft programs.

          • “I do hate to be a nitpicker…”

            Wow. That was sarcasm, right?

          • Most of my posts to you are filled with sarcasm, as there is no point in engaging you in any other manner. As you’ll simple conclude that the other person doesn’t know what they are talking about (falsely, but that’s the rule not the exception).

  3. Private equity hedge funds perform a valuable economic service.

    They shoot the dying and get the remaining assets into something that has more economic promise.

    Looking at VPAP and how they characterize media sources – they do separate conventional/traditional news media from media that is primarily editorial content like BR. Even though a fair amount of it is based on facts, the primary mission is to produce a narrative with a particular focus – as opposed to the idea of “Just the facts, ma’am”, which is now rejected by more and more as not but instead biased.

    I never thought this was as much an issue with local and regional news as National and State news fell in between.

    The proof in the pudding is that even in BR, the authors actually DO quote media articles as factual basis for the non-ideological articles.

    A blog like BR develops it’s own reputation with respect to relying on it for unbiased “news” and most respectfully, I’d opine that most do not see it that way and so it won’t be taking over for the RTD or others.

    But who will ?

    I don’t think they will disappear completely in my view.

    I think we will see massive consolidation and reorganization for it to “fit” it’s realistic funding.

    Finally, the irony that “advertising” which was taken away from traditional media as it’s funding stream – now finances disinformation and conspiracy theories on social media.

    we’re in a world of hurt but I think sooner or later, enough people are going to still want legitimate and true information that something will evolve.

    • No, they don’t. Hedge funds shoot anything and everything they can shoot, not just dying companies. Lots of companies stumble but come back from the brink. Had private equity companies been able to set their teeth into those companies they would have sucked the blood out and killed them for the personal profit of the investors in the hedge fund. In fact, “warm and cuddly” Warren Buffet’s ploy of “returning value to shareholders” via growing dividends and share repurchases is a Hedge Fund Light.

      Here is a list of companies that were on the brink of disaster but came back …

      https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/10-great-companies-that-came-back-from-the-brink-of-death.html/

      As far as advertising funding social media through data theft … even Dante contemplating the rings of hell couldn’t have seen that coming.

      • Some do come back – but usually they have to make changes. And don’t confuse an industry with a company.

        Remember the dot.com disaster?

        What got killed? the business models or the industry?

        Almost all the models that sprang up during Dot.com got clobbered because they did not understand the technology nor how to really build it “right”.

        Look at the “new” companies that came about – quite successfully from dot.com roots…

        equity/hedge funds are brutal and predatory, no question, but if a company has a strong business model for the economy that exists – they’ll never see these vultures anyhow.

        When the vultures are circling – you better do something or they will dismember you as you waste away.

        Very “un-liberal” point of view, don’t you agree?

        Usually it’s snow-flake liberals that see the equity funds as bad, right?

        • Read the article. Delta Airlines in not an industry. Nor is IBM.

          Amazon was a dot.com company. How is it doing?

          Private equity players manipulate the government process through inside politics. Scams like earned interest tax breaks are one example. They also benefit from the Fed and Treasury artificially holding interest rates low by increasing the money supply. If government is going to create winners and losers through government policy then government has the responsibility to police those winners. That isn’t happening with the hedge funds and it isn’t happening with Dominion. Why? Because both use large sums of money to legally corrupt our immoral government.

          • equity/hedge funds use the same rules and laws that many, if not all companies use.

            Is your complaint about the equity/hedge or the laws and tax policies of the govt?

            No matter what laws/tax policy – does exist – the purpose and function of equity and hedge will exist – if the rules change, they change, but they don’t go away.

            WRT dot.com – many, many “ideas” that came about during dot.com were ideas that failed early on but then went on to success after they re-calibrated the technology and how it should work in the economy.

            the dot.com “bust” is really a myth.

            It got off to a rocky start – but once it got on track – it massively changed the economy.

  4. Poor Larry – never can address the point at hand. So, here’s two questions:

    1. Do you accept that the SALT caps put in place through Trump’s tax “cuts” were really a limitation on a tax break only valuable to the wealthy?

    2. If “yes” to 1. – would a removal of those caps constitute providing tax breaks to the wealthy?

    Hint: This is not really a hard question.

  5. What’s dying or already dead is the old media model of print being a local monopoly pulling in margins of 25 percent. Or, a local tv station raking in 45 percent margins. A lot of this went to shareholders or rich old families. Hot flash! The golden years of journalism were golden only for a tiny group. Hell I once made $12k a year and worked every night until 1 am and got Wednesday’s and Thursday’s off. Also what the hell does the media’s plight have to do with SALT tax deductions. Talk about mixing everything up.

    • The media is frequently being drained by hedge fund companies buying up the properties and then squeezing the life out of them. One reason hedge funds can operate at such a significant profit is that they enjoy a ridiculous tax break on earned interest. It is just another tax break for the wealthy that was just fine and dandy with the Obama / Biden Administration. Another tax break for the wealthy that was just fine and dandy with the Obama / Biden Administration was the ability for rich people to deduct large amounts of state and local taxes as well as interest on mortgage loans from their federal taxes.

      Like it or not, the Trump Administration went after both these tax deductions for the wealthy.

      Given that most observers believe that Biden / Harris will roll back the SALT caps it can be reasonably asked if they will also roll back the earned interest loophole as well. Why not? Both were completely acceptable when Biden was Vice President. Why not when he is president?

      Democrat politicians are adept liars portraying themselves as the hero of the working class trying to make the fat cats pay their fair share. But is this true? Trump made some decent progress rolling back ridiculous tax breaks for the rich. Will Biden undo that progress?

      • You know the interesting thing is that the carried and earned interest tax rates are what the Dems say is the wealthy not paying their fair share.

        agree?

        • Yes, I agree. But the Dems don’t do anything about it. It is Trump’s IRS that is pressing the matter. No wonder the billionaire hedge fund managers in Charlottesville are Democrats.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Democratic run governments in America have increasing become money laundering operations in return for votes and power.

  6. And the RTD just went up significantly on its rates ( again). I am seriously considering whether I want to help pad the pockets of these hedge fund pirates.

  7. This has been going on for more than 20 years. Actually I am somewhat surprised that the RTD still manages good stories these days. The Pilot/Daily Press does too.

  8. If my dad is representative of those who subscribe to dead tree media…that industry has a problem. He’s 81 years old.

  9. Steve H. Virginia has no special claim to the name “Lee”. One of the most successful U.S. Navy admirals in WW11 was “Chin” Lee, a master of surface vessels. He was Chinese-America.

  10. I like the photo. It’s good, but still not a match for the one Peter posted years ago. That should cause of bit of head scratching.

  11. Well, climate change has all that paper burning before the RTD can print on it.

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