For all the Ex-Times-Dispatch Employees

I’m Rusty Wornom, and by request (actually, it was the gorgeous and glorious Linda Dunham who came up with this absolutely brilliant idea), I’ve started another blog — but not for me. It’s a place where all the former RTD employees — if you so wish — can post your thoughts, experiences, articles — whatever you want. I do this because the extremely talented people who have been let go from “Virginia’s News Leader” need a venue for their voices, and Linda, in conversations with others, told me that “they need to get the word out about what they do and how good they are.” And I agree. The former staffers of the RTD are some of the most talented people I’ve ever known or worked with. And with luck and perseverance, this new blog will also show others — especially potential employers — that what we all have to say is vital and important.

Here’s the new blog.

100 of you are allowed to register at this site and become contributors/administrators, so it is my hope that we not only include former writers, but also artists, advertising people, and anyone who needs to share their thoughts or artwork — anything that allows the creative juices to flow, the words to erupt, and careers to be furthered.

Write to me or post comments. To register as a regular contributor (so you won’t have to go through me — hell, I do NOT want to be administrator!), write me and I’ll get you listed. rtdispatched(plus the AT sign)

Good luck, everyone. And spread the word — this is for you!

The Onrushing Death (by Stupidity) of the Times-Dispatch

It seems like Richmond has been completely confused by the purchase of by the Richmond Times-Dispatch/Media General.

You aren’t the only ones. From an insider’s POV, in November it looked like MG bought the site in a way to increase local presence, but without bothering to figure out beforehand not only how to do that, but how to market all the disparate sites they had.

In the months prior, they ramped up reps in the Internet sales/advertising department and started a bunch of blitzes that basically failed to inspire the print side to do a damn thing to help the IT side.

Then they bought Then they announced that at the RTD, print comes second, Web is first.

But was anyone in corporate communicating with anyone else?

In November of 2008, Media General purchased from site owner John Whitlock for an undisclosed price. The company’s plans for that site remained a mystery.

Now it appears Media General is responding to some of the confusion generated by operating three local sites by paring them down to two. One will stick to the basics and serve newspaper readers who also read the news online. The other…well it’s still a bit of a mystery.

Michael Fibison, who manages several Virginia websites for Media General, wouldn’t confirm or deny the planned change, nor provide details about what a revamped might look like.

It’s possible that the company may be intending to try and attract the younger generation, who use the web almost exclusively for their news. With newspaper readership falling, Media General has to find a way to secure an online audience to survive.

Ain’t gonna happen. The “young online audience” doesn’t like literal labels, nor old-fashioned ones. is as contemporary as Compuserve, eToys and

And they’re all dead.

Here’s the whole article from

Print versus Online? No Contest yet…

This excellent blog post, written by Alan Mutter, a former newspaper exec and currently Managing Partner of Tapit Partners, explains why most newspapers can’t just shut down their operations overnight and switch over to online-only.

It’s all about revenue — big surprise, right? — and it ties in nicely with my conclusions in “The Death of the Times-Dispatch,” specifically this part:

So here’s the thing: here’s why they’re even trying to keep the RTD going, despite its inevitable funeral, despite that it’s dead already and they keep kicking the corpse around: because they have to. As bad as the situation is, the paper is still bringing in revenue — just not a profit. Online advertising is nowhere near replacing the revenue that print advertising brings in. Sure, they’ll keep reducing the staff as circulation drops lower and lower; they’ll redesign the look not to make a better product, but to cut page count, and thereby newsprint costs. They’ll save money where they can, but revenue will continue to fall . . . because the core product, the newspaper, has been replaced by news on television and the Internet.

That’s why the purchase of was considered a sound investment: a massive increase of page views and potentially an increase of ad revenue.

And the bow ties know the RTD will eventually be forced to cease publication, probably sooner than later — hence the new commandment from on high, introduced last month to the sales staffs, of Web-First. Starting at that last-minute November meeting, with an imperative to begin in January 2009, all sales efforts are to push online advertising first, and newspaper advertising second.

Online is now priority one. I repeat: sales emphasis is on the Web first, print second.

That has to tell you something.

Make sure you go back to Newsosaur for Part Two.