Scripps scraps jobs, not spelling bee

November 13, 2008

Newspaper publishers throughout the United States are cutting dividends, paper size, circulation, coverage, reporting jobs, editing jobs, advertising salesman jobs, copy editing jobs. Yes, even copy editing has to fall under the newspaper delivery truck sometime. Despite that, publisher EW Scripps — itself shedding workers — still is churning out tomorrow’s precision-focused language geeks for the copy desk.

We were curious to find out what kinds of discretionary spending cuts companies are making, and newspapers are no exception. When thinking about publishers, the most high-profile event we could think of was the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Could they cut the beloved Bee? I asked spokesman Tim King:

We are enthusiastically going to continue running the spelling  Bee — we’re eager to host the next one that’s coming this coming spring.

King declined to say how much sponsoring the Bee costs, but said that after running it since 1926, they’re not about to stop now. Scripps takes a small loss on the Bee, he added.

Here’s a cost-cutting idea that will keep the Bee and Scripps’s papers buzzing for years to come: Give the winner all the fun prizes. Put all the also-rans to work as copy editors at the nation’s newspapers. They can brave long shifts with little sleep on a ton of caffeinated soda, require little pay and even less pension funding, and probably are less cranky than your typical veteran desker.

This is what the newspaper executives mean when they say they’re looking for “cost-cutting synergies.”

(Photo: Catherine “Cat” Cojocaru of Rochester waits for her turn during the semi-final round of the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington. Reuters)

2 comments

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Interesting that most Spelling Bee graduates I know never got into the news business, so I don’t agree with your premise that Scripps is doing this to create new generations of copy editors. Consider Ben Bernanke, a one-time winner on the state level, who flubbed his word in the national bee.

Posted by edward | Report as abusive

Assuming ur tongue is somewhere in the cheek region? :)

Posted by Robert MacMillan | Report as abusive

[...] At least, in these trying times, there’s some good news. Scripps is cutting employees, but will continue the spelling bee, on which they take a loss.  This is great news–I don’t know how ESPN would have filled that time otherwise. [...]