After Louisville layoffs, reporters will be coached more than edited

WFPL

Louisville Courier-Journal Executive Editor Neil Budde tells WFPL’s James Miller the budgetary imperatives behind last week’s layoffs allowed him to reimagine the news organization: “The approach I took was rather than what we’ve done in the past — which is identify somebody here, somebody there — was to step back and say: If I had ‘X’ budget and that’s the new budget and I was creating a news organization today from scratch, how would I do that?”

The Courier-Journal laid off seven people last Tuesday, including Managing Editor Jean Porter, metro editor Mike Trautmann, graphic artist Steve Reed and multimedia manager John Mura.

No reporters lost their jobs, “but several C-J reporters told me that the loss of people such as Trautmann, Porter and Reed would definitely affect their reporting,” Miller wrote last week. Miller asked Budde about their fears: “When you have reporters out in the field and they need to call in and say, ‘I have this problem,’ who are they going to be calling?” Budde replied:

There is a role in this organization labeled as content editor. In some ways I might think of it more as content coach. Somebody who will be working with the reporters, helping them shape their stories and their ideas along the way — probably, less hands-on editing. Although, obviously, some part of it will be editing. But I think in the past we have had editors who were fairly aggressive in reworking stories for reporters. There is a little more expectation that the reporters are more independent and produce stories that are in better shape and with some work, a lot of that is also in the coaching process.

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  • http://www.mightytravels.com/ MightyTravels

    Interesting journalism tactic!

    Torsten @ http://www.mightytravels.com

  • HKAnders

    Great point. If “coaching” is so superior to editing, how is it that in the 600-year history of journalism, it took a bunch of corporate shills at Gannett to come up with it at this late date? Don’t you think some actual journalists would have figured out sooner that editing is a waste of time, and would have tossed it overboard in favor of “coaching” by now? Quick, somebody nominate the Gannett accounting department for a MacArthur genius grant! They’ve saved journalism!

  • ArmchairNihilist

    This is standard corporate old-wine-in-new-bottles disingenuousness. The C-J’s Budde pretends that reporters — who, after all, should be be busy “reporting,” which everyone in the print world understands is the task that precedes the equally arduous one of “writing” — will magically transform into hyper-conscientious wordsmiths with nary an editorial hand, just light “coaching,” to guide them.
    Just admit it, newsroom weasels: You don’t want to pay editors, certainly not experienced ones, so you concoct a bunch of BS about “inventing a new paradigm” (one that somehow eluded generations of managers before you) and “testing fresh approaches.” Enough. Your quality will suffer, further hastening the exodus of your remaining readers.

  • HKAnders

    So, stories in the C-J will read more like blog posts than old school-style articles, with reporters being “coached” rather than edited.
    “Content coach.” What does that even mean? Rhetorical question. It’s just the standard corporate weasel-speak – like “right-size,” “offboarding,” and “doing more with less.”
    Yeah, what could possibly go wrong?