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HFPA faces job change

Globes org members struggle as print fades

While the Globes may still be golden, the 83 HFPA members from around the world are feeling the effects of the global recession and downsizing of international print outlets. “All the changes are having a fairly profound effect,” notes president Philip Berk, “and many members have told me they’ve lost magazines and outlets, especially in the Italian market. On the other hand, some foreign markets seem to be recovering far faster than America. We’re still seeing a lot of people losing their jobs in entertainment journalism domestically.”

Privately, some members admit to moonlighting as translators to help make ends meet, and Berk says the steady migration of advertising from print to TV and the Internet “hasn’t helped the situation.” To remain active members of the HFPA, journalists must be accredited every year. “You have to present your clippings and also be accredited by the MPAA,” Berk explains. In an effort to help members deal with the rapidly changing landscape, the HFPA recently adjusted its rules to accommodate Internet outlets. “Many of our members’ magazine outlets are now also or exclusively online, so members can now be accredited by virtue of their online articles and coverage.”

Erik Kanto, who writes for the Finnish market, has been the HFPA’s IT director since 2000, and admits that it’s been a struggle to get some members (“especially the older ones,” he says) to adapt to the new realities. “They’ve been working for the same outlets for decades, very safely, and they get upset when I warn them that they have to adapt to the Internet and all the new technology or risk losing their jobs.” Kanto notes that in Finland, monthly publications remain strong “because they’re all also online, whereas the weeklies are suffering, as many are not (online).”

“The biggest change has been the loss of ad dollars in print,” says Scott Orlin, the U.S. correspondent for Germany’s Cinema Magazine. “So magazines are shrinking, and a lot of the publications I work for have really stepped up their online operations. In turn, I’ve had to incorporate more varied approaches, as people want instant information now. They don’t have the patience to read a full magazine or newspaper.”

Orlin also sees another change in HFPA coverage: less demand for star coverage. “Two of the biggest hits of the year, ‘Transformers’ and ‘The Hangover,’ weren’t star-driven at all,” he notes. “And I think we’ve reached saturation point, even internationally, in terms of celebrity coverage. Now, with shows like ‘TMZ’ and Us magazine-style coverage, there’s no mystery left.”

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