Sunday, April 5, 2009

How the Houston Chron is restructuring news coverage

The Houston Press blog has a comment on it that purports to be a copy of a memo about how the Houston Chronicle has re-arranged itself after its recent layoffs. A few highlights:

* Story lengths. Reporters and assigning editors will agree on target lengths for every story and include them on the budget. Because we continue to be respectful of our readers’ time, anything longer than 15 inches needs to be discussed with the lead editor for the section.

* Suggested headlines. Reporters need to provide a suggested headline in the Web headline field in DTI. This can serve as a Web headline and be considered when the print headline is written. Reporters should also write a summary in the Web summary field that will appear online. The Web summary is a short recap of the story, typically the lead or nut graph.

* Subject matter experts will focus on their areas of expertise, but everyone on the copy desk will work across multiple sections. An editor, for example, may lay out and edit the Television page inside Star and then work on the Newsmakers page inside A.

A reader suggests that internal Belo finances may not make sense

If I get it, I think this reader is saying that some ad sellers are double-dipping commissions for online ads, which is a needless hit to the company bottom line. Can someone explain this?
If ad rep A sells an ad, they get 100 percent commission. but they are being allowed to pay ad rep B 100 percent commission on the same ad. Given that these online ads make no where near what the ads for the paper makes, this seems like highway robbery and an insult to the rest of us who have been hit with having to pay for our blackberries, parking fees, cuts in 401k contributions, salary cuts, etc. etc. etc.

Is this true? Given how little those ads are worth, compared with print, I can't see how even double dipping would be much of a hit.

Can anybody sign onto the Belo extranet from home?

Several commenters cannot. Neither can I. As has been noted on this blog elsewhere, technology is not Belo's strong suit, so I'm not taking anything as an omen. I'm getting an error code that says: uses an invalid security certificate.

The certificate expired on 4/4/09 6:59 PM.

(Error code: sec_error_expired_certificate)

Looks like the tech champions at IBM missed a deadline. Imagine that.