Newspaper racks

Gannett layoffs: the guy who fills those racks is screwed

As I was filling a 10-minute void in my schedule by researching important data (playing with my Google+ account, trying to decide if I should keep it), I came across the following brief post by Peter Cohen, former Macworld editor, and co-founder of Angry Mac Bastards podcast (if you don’t subscribe to this foul-mouthed threesome’s weekly rants, you’re missing out!).

More good news for my brethren in the newspaper business: Gannett is shitcanning another 700 newspaper workers.

Peter made this post a while ago, but I just mentioned the news to a designer friend who is much younger than I am (something that is an unfortunate regularity) and was shocked to hear her response, and amazed at the lack of thorough thinking. The synopsis of her response was “so what, it doesn’t affect me.” It was incredibly short-sighted, and told me a lot about her critical thinking skills – not to mention her lack of compassion over 700 people being out of a job.

The domino effect

Less journalists at the paper means less desks being used, which means less desks being sold, and less computers being purchased to sit on the desk to be used by those journalists, and less phones to buy. This means that some computer company isn’t making sales, which means they need to lay off people, and require less support staff. No more office supplies are needed for that person, nor do they require any other sort of support typically provided by people.

Less journalists probably means a drop in revenue (you don’t subscribe to the paper to read the ads, do you?), so less papers are being printed due to less subscribers, which means less people running the printing operations, and less delivery people. Those operations all have support staffs and outside vendors, who are now taking a hit as well. And those vendors’ all have janitors, office staff, desks, office supplies, computers, etc. that also are going to scale back. The list goes on and on. There must be some official term for this never-ending loop, no?

Why designers should care

The one thing every company and person this unfortunate domino effect has in common with each other is that they all, at some point or another, require the use of a graphic designer to produce sales and marketing materials. The situation as it is means they need less graphic design, or worse, “cheap” graphic design.

It’s not just about print

You probably have an AdBlocker installed in your web browser. By blocking the ads, you prevent publishers and bloggers from making more income. Less advertising revenue means less incentive and resources to publish articles and improve their site, including magazine subscriptions, software purchases, etc.. Less articles means less traffic, and less traffic means less exposure to great Mac applications. That in turn means less sales for the developers, which means they may choose not to spend money on a great graphic designer for their icons, web site, and other marketing materials.

So tell me again how 700 newspaper journalists losing their job doesn’t affect you, Mr. or Mrs. Graphic Designer?