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In which publishers complain/brag about layoffs

April 18, 2011

Publishers sure are funny people.

Last week Alison Yesilcimen, the former head of the Okanagan Valley Newspaper Group, which runs the Kelowna Daily Courier and Penticton Herald sent out the following email:

Good morning…
During my time as President & CEO at The Okanagan Valley Newspaper Group, I encountered four major challenges facing the publishing industry;
    1. Reduced Staffing
    2. Declines in revenue
    3. Finding diverse rich content from non-traditional markets
    4. The restrictive costs and limitations associated with traditional newswire services
I always felt strongly there had to be a better way for publishers to buy and sell their content. This is what inspired me to create www.MediaCooler.com, a digital content marketplace that allows media companies to sell their content to non-competing media outlets and buy news, features, columns, and photos a-la-carte, from professional journalists throughout Canada.
Unlike subscription services, MediaCooler is free to join. Just register, search for desired content, embargo competing media outlets from purchasing the same content and click the Buy Now button. All purchases are securely processed through PayPal.
To sell your own content, just freely register, submit your content, embargo any competing media outlets and you’re done! Every time your content sells, you get paid instantly through PayPal. Create once, sell many.
Feel free to contact me directly with any questions or thoughts on the website at alison@mediacooler.com or 250-808-9994 or follow us on Twitter @MediaCooler.

Thanks in advance for your support!

Perhaps it’s my reporter’s permanent feeling of victimization talking, but it seems just a tad disinengenuous for the former publisher of one of the province’s leanest newspaper groups to talk about “encountering” that dastardly challenge of “reduced staffing.” Especially when Yesilcimen wasthe one who “reduced” staffing levels.

Oh yes, if only there was an easy way to address problems caused by “reduced staffing” that didn’t involve, you know, increasing staffing.

Is this too harsh? Perhaps.

But then, I just came across the resume of the former publisher of the Kootenay Advertiser, Lake District News, Terrace Standard. (I’m not sure why it’s listed on this site, but a similar one can be found through this portal.)

Here’s are the highlights from Rena A. Mlodecki-Walsh’s time with the Kootenay Adveritser:

Kootenay Advertiser, Cranbrook, B.C.  – 1997 to 2001

Publisher/Owner

*Purchased free distribution shopper with rack distribution of over 31,000

*Downsized staff from 28 to 14

*Managed a separate distribution centre that collated upwards of 25 flyers twice weekly

*Launched Friday edition and harnessed over $250 million in preprints

*Sold operation to my former boss, David Black in 2000 and remained Publisher until my relocation to Idaho in 2001

Looking at a publisher’s resume is revelatory.

First, let’s try to be kind here: most publisher’s in the last decade or so have probably had to lay people off. And Mlodecki-Walsh writes that she worked as a reporter/photographer 30 years ago at her first newspaper, in Brighton Ont. So she’s got that going for her. But at that Brighton paper, she was also responsible for pre-press and ad sales duties. So her sense of journalism ethics can’t be that high. She later calls that paper the “family business;” a Victor Mlodecki is cited as a reference and a vice-president of Irving Newspapers.

Here’s what a publisher (or this publisher, at least) doesn’t brag about: helping foster good journalism. Also not worth mentioning: hiring people.

Here’s what this publisher does brag about: buying a paper, laying off half the staff, then selling the trimmed-down operation to David Black.

Speaking of Black, he’s listed as a reference here, as is Bob Grainger.

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