Longtime Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur announced today that she will no longer be writing her current Tuesday and Friday news(ish) columns. Instead, Brodeur will be writing Sundays in the paper's NW Arts & Life section about NW arts and life, I guess, while essentially producing a gossip column ("parties, fundraisers, kickoffs") in her old Tuesday spot. She's the new Jean Godden.
This move comes on the heels of Joni Balter's apparent demotion from the editorial board to the post of assistant deputy metro editor or something. Makes one wonder if even bigger changes are afoot?
It also makes me wonder how in this age of declining readership and revenue, newspapers like the Seattle Times can even afford to hire columnists like Brodeur? Nothing personal—Brodeur seems like a nice lady and all that—but for years now she's presumably been earning a living wage plus benefits to write, what? Fourteen hundred words a week?
And that makes Brodeur a workaholic compared to the five members of the paper's editorial board, which over the first four days of this work week have collectively managed to publish 7 editorials for a total of 2,300 words. To their credit, both Bruce Ramsey and Lance Dickey have also turned out a 600-word column each, with Ramsey adding a 500-word blog post, but combined, the output from each of the paper's five editorial writers averages only 200 words a day. That's 44 words less than I've typed so far in this one post alone. In fact, I'd wager that the average Stranger writer posts more to Slog in a day than most Seattle Times columnists write in a week—and that's not counting that pesky weekly newspaper we have to put out.
Of course, quantity and quality are two different things... but I don't think the Seattle Times editorial board wants to go there. The point is, for a newspaper that's struggling to find a 21st century business model, I just can't see how they can continue to afford to pay so many columnists to produce 1990's-era output.
Whatever. I've got more thoughts on the subject, but I've got 500 words due at 3PM for next week's news section on top of the 1,700 word feature I've already turned in. And then there's that backlog of other Slog posts I need to write. It's an exhausting schedule. All the more reason at my advanced age that I'm so looking forward to snagging that cushy editorial writer position I've applied for at the Seattle Times. I think of it as a kinda early retirement.