Newspapers: firing the wrong people?

There’s an interesting piece by David Carr in today’s New York Times about (US) newspapers’ latest cost-cutting wheeze: firing their best writers.

Right now, the consumer has all manner of text to choose from on platforms that range from a cellphone to broadsheet. The critical point of difference journalism offers is that it can reduce the signal-to-noise ratio and provide trusted, branded information. That will be a business into the future, perhaps less paper-bound and smaller, but a very real business.

…Having missed the implications of the Web and allowed both their content and their audience to be scraped away by aggregators and ad networks, newspapers are now working furiously to maintain audience, build new ad models and renovate presentation. But they won’t stay relevant to readers with generic content ginned up by newbies with no background in the communities they serve.

I’m inclined to agree with this bit too:

I have always thought of journalism as more craft than profession and tell students that it is the accumulation of experience and technique that makes a journalist valuable, not some ineffable beckoning of the muse.