by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am
By Ray PaulickThe news just keeps getting worse for print publications and horse racing journalists who work for them. During the same week the company that owns  the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun declared bankruptcy, my old employer, the Bloodhorse, initiated its third round of job cuts in the past year and the Washington Post notified its full-time turf writer, John Scheinman, that it will no longer cover horse racing, and he will be out of a job Jan. 1.

These are tough times for newspapers and magazines, which are struggling to adapt to different readership habits, are faced with new online competition, and are suffering from the economic crisis that has affected nearly every business and industry in the United States.

Bloodhorse, whose weekly magazine has been steadily losing advertising market share to its chief rival, Thoroughbred Times, since former NTRA Purchasing chief Joe Morris was hired as Times publisher in mid-2007, notified employees in several departments this week that their positions are being eliminated. In a letter to advertisers, Bloodhorse president Stacy Bearse (pictured, left) said the company is trying to reduce expenses by $1.5 million, will eliminate unprofitable products and cut its staff by 10%. This comes after two earlier rounds of multi-departmental firings. The Thoroughbred Times has thus far been able to avoid layoffs, probably the result of its market share gains against the Bloodhorse, in both the weekly magazine and the annual stallion book that each publication produces.

Bloodhorse announced recently that it is cutting advertising rates by 5%, less than three months after notifying advertisers that rates were being increased for what I believe was the sixth consecutive year.

On a personal note, it's sad for me to see some very good people and dedicated employees lose their jobs. Among those terminated were individuals who have been with the Bloodhorse for decades, and whose contributions led to its position as the market leader. The circumstances that led to the company's downhill slide were not their fault, though they were the ones who ultimately paid the price.

The same can be said of the Washington Post's John Scheinman, who has provided racing coverage with great enthusiasm and insight for the past eight years for the nation's fifth-largest paper. Scheinman took over the racing beat when Andy Beyer retired from full-time duties. This will mark the end of 130 years of horse racing coverage in the Post, Scheinman said.

In a note to friends and family, Scheinman wrote: “

The professional love of my life, journalism, is in grave peril these days, a peril I believe is not just the result of a changing world and depressed economy. Much is self-inflicted as those in charge are not minding the foundation of the store during complex changes that are altering the dynamics of the industry.”Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times (fourth largest in the country) eliminated its racing coverage and fired its two horse racing writers and handicappers (though after reader protests it brought back limited coverage). So did the Philadelphia Inquirer, the nation's eighth-largest paper, which terminated its racing writer in late summer.

UPDATE: Neil Milbert, the veteran turf writer for the now-bankrupt Chicago Tribune, was a victim in the latest round of newsroom cuts at the Chicago Tribune last week, according to published reports. The Trib used to employ two full-time turf writers; now, apparently, there are none.

Copyright © 2008, The Paulick Report  

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