News Orgs Paying The Price For Costcutting

The last three months have been….eventful, to say the least. What with the Middle East, natural disasters and someone or other getting married there have been a lot of boots on the ground in foreign places.

Some news orgs may have already blown through their entire foreign news budgets with 3/4 of the year remaining, TheWrap reports.

David Verdi, NBC News VP of worldwide newsgathering, told TheWrap that the first day of a catastrophe costs $1 million. Cable news outlets’ costs might be even higher.

Yet the networks that cut more staff have “had to spend millions to play catchup in Libya, Egypt and Japan” and their ratings are not as good as CNN’s, which has the most correspondents covering the news. On the day the quake hit Japan, CNN averaged 2.273 million viewers, its biggest audience since January 2009 covering President Obama’s inauguration.

Cutting staff doesn’t just mean a lack of people, it means a lack of expertise, one analyst told TheWrap: “The loss is not in the ability to cover the event itself. The loss is in the amount of expertise and background knowledge that reporters covering the event have,” said Richard Wald, a former executive at ABC and NBC News and a journalism professor at Columbia University.

Here’s hoping that the added expense in the first part of the year will be offset by ad revenue so as to prevent more cost-cutting at the end of 2011.