An important part of Gannett's strategic plan involves consolidation of work to cut labor costs. So, for example, the company in recent years replaced local customer service departments at each newspaper with three giant customer service call centers.
Consolidation is also playing a role in Corporate's deliberations over which newspapers to keep -- and which ones to sell. Newspapers that are clustered together -- think Wisconsin and New Jersey -- stand better chances of staying with Gannett. When papers are close together, the company could, for example, hire one publisher to oversee three papers, eliminating two big paychecks. Ditto for advertising directors, production chiefs, and IT directors.
And when newspapers aren't close together -- well, that explains why Gannett sold four papers last year, and donated a fifth to the Gannett Foundation. The recently published 2007 Annual Report says: "The location of these newspapers made regionalization and optimization of resources impractical, limiting our opportunities to change and improve in today’s challenging environment. The company is committed to transforming its business activities, including more consolidation and centralization of functions that do not require a physical presence in our markets."
Whew! Translation: If you work at a newspaper, calculate the distance to another Gannett paper. Not within a short day's drive? Hmmm . . .
[Image: yesterday's Rockford (Ill.) Register Star, Newseum. It is one of four newspapers Gannett sold; a fifth was donated to the Gannett Foundation]