The Tribune Co., which as you have probably guessed is the company that produces the Chicago Tribune, among other newspapers, is bringing a revolution, or a big change, to the news business. Tribune Co.’s Chief Operating Officer, Randy Michaels, has decided to start measuring productivity by word count, and Michael Kinsley of the Washington Post and the LA Times, which is a Tribune paper, thinks it’s a fabulous, superb, nifty, keen, downright great, and perhaps even visionary idea.
“Productivity will be measured by column-inches of words,” Kinsley writes. “In other words, the company will assume that the more words you write, the more productive you are. Or, to put it another way, if you use many, many, many words to make whatever point you may be trying to make or fact you are attempting to report, you will be considered more productive than another writer who takes pains to be concise…This Michaels is clearly a bright man.” The papers can also cut down on editorial space, so they can employ fewer journalists, which is to say, lay off staff, especially since its staff will be so much more productive, which is to say, writing more words.