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Pondering Over Staff Numbers

Pondering Over Staff Numbers

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Published by jim_chisholm

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Published by: jim_chisholm on May 09, 2010
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05/09/2010

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Pondering over staff numbers
It’s one of our industry’s imponderables. Suggest to the editor that he needs to cut costs, and heimmediately responds that his quality will be affected (until he/she is made Publisher then sit back and watch!) Can one predict what editorial staff numbers should be? Yes. But many editors willargue that you can’t. I will demonstrate that you can. Here is an analysis based on 20 newspapers(of different kinds) in seven European countries.Here are three interesting facts.Firstly: There is a very strong correlation between advertising revenue and staff numbers. Thegraph below shows the relationship between a newspaper’s advertising revenues and the editorialstaffing numbers. You will see how close the markers are to the line.Secondly: There is a reasonably strong relationship between circulation and editorial staffing. OK so the points are not so close, but there is still a demonstrable relationship.
 
 In the circulation chart, the difference is most striking among the larger titles. B&K are bothnational titles, with weak classified. P&R are more like large regional titles with a strongclassified. Does this justify the extra editorial resources? And what happens when that classifiedmigrates off to a branded digital vertical?By combining the two factors, it is possible to measure how close staffing levels are to the“optimum” as demonstrated in the chart below:In the circulation chart, the difference is most striking among the larger titles. B&K are bothnational titles, with weak classified. P&R are more like large regional titles with a strongclassified. Does this justify the extra editorial resources? And what happens when thatclassified migrates off to a branded digital vertical.By combining the two factors, it is possible to measure how close staffing levels are to the“optimum” as demonstrated in the chart below:Here the blue circles show actual staffing levels, and the red circles what the model predicts theyshould be. Note how those titles above the line show blue, actual levels larger, while those belowthe line show blue, actual levels smaller. In other words this shows that relative to circulationvolumes and advertising revenues, editorial staff numbers can be justified and accounted for against peers. And the differences, to an extent, can be explained by differences in genre, butthat’s no excuse. Now to the third factor. There is absolutely no correlation between editorial pages produced, andstaff numbers required. This confirms the argument that quality and quantity are different things…

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