Gannett's 10-paper Wisconsin Newspapers group is considering a plan under which copy and pagination work would be merged into a regional operation, likely resulting in "significant'' job cuts, an internal company document shows. Publishers discussed the idea at a meeting last Wednesday that addressed several topics -- including consolidating work, according to a meeting agenda I've obtained.
The document describes "two possible consolidations. 1) regional copy desk and 2) page layout." It says executives are "looking at severance costs, which are significant. They will be meeting to walk through the process. At this time, we’re not sure if there are any showstoppers."
Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell declined to comment, calling the subject an "internal matter.''
The Wisconsin talks are the first concrete evidence I've seen of such a move within Gannett, although the company may already operate regional editing desks elsewhere. (See question, below.)
Consolidating all copy editing into giant regional or statewide desks has emerged as another way for newspaper publishers to cut labor costs at a time when revenue is falling. But critics say copy editors can't do their jobs well when they work far from the communities their papers serve. (Mayor Smith? Smyth?) Gannett business partner MediaNews Group is a prominent proponent of consolidation.
A Gannett shift to regional editing would not be surprising. The company has made clear that it's now favoring newspapers in its portfolio that are clustered together. Proximity makes it easier to share resources, a factor in GCI's decision last year to unload five papers.
Some Wisconsin papers already share copy editing functions, a Gannett Blog tipster says. Geography makes the 10 Wisconsin newspapers good candidates for consolidating work: Eight of them are small afternoon dailies, within about two hours of each other. The biggest among the 10 is the morning Green Bay Press-Gazette, with 55,081 weekday subscribers, and 77,765 on Sunday.
Is your newspaper considering a move toward regional editing? Use this link to e-mail your reply; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.
[Image: Sunday's Post-Crescent at Appleton, and the Press-Gazette, Newseum]