Associated Press piece (via Wednesday’s Boston Globe):
Deseret News in UT cutting newsroom by nearly half
SALT LAKE CITY — The Deseret News, Utah’s oldest daily newspaper, said Tuesday it will cut nearly half of its staff and consolidate operations with affiliated television and radio operations to emphasize digital delivery of news on websites and mobile devices.
Executives said they planned to keep publishing the newspaper, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Deseret News said it was eliminating 85 newsroom positions, although some staffers will stay on for a transition period as the newspaper consolidates with KSL-TV and KSL Radio, which are also owned by the church.
That triggered vivid flashbacks of the early ’90s in Boston and the slow-motion ritual suicide of the highly respected Christian Science Monitor, the entirely laughable Monitor Channel TV network, and the credible-except-for-medical-news-and-stuff Monitor Radio (which – full disclosure – I freelanced for).
From a 1998 review of Susan Bridge’s (so far) definitive chronicle of the Christian Science media meltdown, Monitoring the News: The Brilliant Launch and Sudden Collapse of The Monitor Channel:
What happens when a serious news organization creates a serious television network dedicated to serious news coverage? Disaster all around, Susan Bridge shows in this account of the short-lived Monitor Channel.
By 1991, she writes, the respected Christian Science Monitor was a fading newspaper, and the Christian Science Publishing Society sought to diversify and reposition itself, in part through a CNN-style news network.
The Monitor Channel premiered that May. Its target audience was “high-quality viewers of the 1990s.” Its content featured breaking news coverage, historical and educational programming, and upscale fare such as art films.
Within 13 months, the Monitor Channel had gone dark. It was a victim, according to Bridge, of economic recession, a competitive cable marketplace, and internal and external strife over how it fit into the Christian Science mission and financial picture.
If memory serves me, the Monitor Channel misadventure cost the church roughly $400 million, as well as the future of the Christian Science Monitor, which has been gradually squeezed since then from a scrappy respected newspaper to a scrawny respected newspaper to a scrappy respected website.
I know the Deseret News situation isn’t exactly the same, but as Mark Twain said, “History does not repeat itself but it rhymes.”