Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Urgent: Here's a list of paper assignments by hub; second document is an FAQ from V.P. Marymont

I've now published a spreadsheet, listing 78 newspapers and their assigned page production hubs, which Gannett is calling News Design Centers. It was provided to me by a reader, after Gannett confirmed today that it's launching five large pagination hubs over the next two years. They are to be based at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey; The Courier-Journal in Louisville; The Des Moines Register; The Tennessean at Nashville, and The Arizona Republic in Phoenix.

The original spreadsheet includes the following caveat: "This document shows which newspapers are assigned to which News Design Center, based on information we have now. It is possible that additional research might require that we make adjustments to these assignments."

Note: Gannett lists 81 dailies in its U.S. Community Publishing division; they exclude USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. I have been unable to account for three of those papers, which appear to be missing from the document supplied to me. (Update at 10:27 p.m. ET: Guam is exempt, so that accounts for one of the three.)

Also, I've now added a related memo and FAQ from News Department Vice President Kate Marymont.

Earlier: Stripped to a "flying gas can," we start the final leg

41 comments:

  1. So sad to read the memo from Kate Marymont. I worked for her years ago, and the Kate I knew then would have been among the first to call BS on that corporate claptrap that she's now spewing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't wait to see the new sophisticated designs! Ha.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So what is happening to all of these copy editors and page designers? Are they losing their jobs???

    ReplyDelete
  4. My editor says no changes in deadlines.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would have put all the hubs at currrent CCI sites. Asbury, Nashville, and I think Des Moines (DTI currently?) will have their hands full just learning the CCI system. I know, having been a key member of the installation team at a Gannett metro several years ago.The Danes have their way of doing things, and I'm betting Gannett is getting an under-flavored (read cheap) version of the LA Times/Chicago Tribune setup for $15 million.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Where I work now, we design and edit four dailies and several weeklies. It would go a lot faster on CCI, but I recall getting 40 hours worth of training on that system. It is not intuitive, but once you finally learn it you can fly through pages.

    It seems as if designers, and possibly copy editors are being relegated to pre-press/production from the newsroom/editorial.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes, you can fly through pages once you know the system. And 40 hours of training is typical for a designer. But folks coming from say a DTI or Atex system will have their hands full because it does not use inDesign or Quark. It's a CCI proprietary layout system. It has a few qualities of those systems, but very few. It's a whole new learning experience for layout folks from other systems.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tribune's NewsGate servers are barely able to handle production demands. Gannett will need a massive investment in IT if it hopes to run dozens of papers off NewsGate.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Why no yelling and screaming from the pubs and editors about this plan. Wake up. Eds and pubs are losing their cherished autonomy under this plan, and once gone, there will be no getting it back. There will also not be anymore objections to running Content One's USAT pages.
    Their collective silence about this is deafening. They say they will maintain the current fonts and individual quirks of the papers, but I bet we see that is an empty promise. Too much copy and too few hands mean that indvidualization is going to be limited.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What is the ultimate business goal. I know that this is going to save a ton of money and make it easier to ship this stuff to Asia once no one is paying attention. However, is Gannett planning on acquiring more properties by having everything so heavily consolidated. This doesn't leave much room for selling individual sites once the company really starts blowing through money down the road.

    Within five years, most Gannett properties will likely have seen at least a 36 percent drop in print circulation. How will the company make up for that lost revenue? Gannett can only cut so much until those cuts start to dramatically undermine the products and fuel the faster decline of those products. How will it pay off the towering debt that Craig racked up when he went on that insane stock buying binge a couple years ago? Who's really going to pay for Gannett's content in the future, when any blogger can buy the story once and rehash it for free?

    Sophisticated newspaper design is a unique skill, not something everyone is cut out to perform. Consolidation will lead to "creative stall" in the industry. Once the recession is over, it will be even more difficult to attract people to work in these hubs.

    I just don't think this is the solution to the problem. It will be an interesting experiment to watch.

    Ha! It will be even more interesting to watch years down the road once Gannett realizes this drone model was absolutely the wrong solution and attempts to add back local folks.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The only drone model is the one here, where people are trapped in the past.

    Wake up and move on.

    ReplyDelete
  12. 7:37: Right on. Except that editors and pubs haven't had autonomy for years. They can pretend they did all they want. It's a farce.

    "Their collective silence about this is deafening."

    As long as they keep their jobs, they don't care. Maybe for the day of the announcement and for a few days after the deed is done. After that, nah.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thoughtful criticism of my decision to publish these documents is welcome here. Repetitive cut-and-paste rants are not.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's really hard to see how this could preserve the individual look or flavor of local papers.

    And that line about "Design Center employees will receive training in sophisticated newspaper design" -- again, hard to see that playing out in practice. The emphasis inevitably will be on standardization, streamlining the processes, adhering to deadlines -- all things that work against designers, who are the last to get copy and have to make up for everyone else's blown deadlines.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you, Jim, for all that you've done the past few days. Your information has been very helpful to me, and if I weren't unemployed, I'd be sending you money...

    I wish the best to all who will be affected; such a sad day for newspaper design.

    ReplyDelete
  17. 40 hours of CCI NewsGate training? Who receives that much? Not the Gannett paper I know of.

    Also, "sophisticated" design? They may get some training, but they will rarely have time to make use of it, because "sophisticated" design takes time and, uh, thought. Most pages will be designed by formula or even templates.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Who's missing? Well, Guam is definitely not here....I haven't figured out who else.

    This will be unpopular, but I'll say it:
    Since no one in each city sees the other papers, what does it really matter if they use the same fonts or look very similar? Isn't this a chance for all of them to look better? Our design talent among newspapers is not created equal.

    Consolidation and efficiency is not an evil in itself. But I do feel deeply for every person who loses a job as a result.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Guam is addressed specifically in the memo, dummy.

    ReplyDelete
  20. @9:49 P.M.
    Don't assume "no one in each city sees other papers." Many Gannett papers are near each other and are adjacent in circulation areas. Plus, it will be interesting to see how this shakes out with various design contests (AP, SPJ, SND, etc).

    ReplyDelete
  21. Whenever this happens at my newspaper I will be losing 3/4 of what I do. I design ALL the niche pubs (not too much with editing words) and according to our plan they will be passed along to "experienced" designers. Guess I can kiss my job goodbye in the next few months/years - unless I want to pack up my family and move to Des Moines and try to become and "experienced" designer.

    ReplyDelete
  22. @9:49:

    Also, not a chance for them to look better, especially when switching to such a gawd awful pagination/design system.

    ReplyDelete
  23. There have been a few mentions of IT investment. Didn't Gannett just gut most of its IT departments in the last two bloodbaths. My lawyer says she can't wait for the job listings for IT.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dummy? Really, 9:49?

    Why do you assume that everyone read the whole memo? Are you aware that normal people don't call each other "dummy"?

    So many people on here are so negative – as they've been in newsrooms where I've worked for decades. Probably why only journalists are crying over our own demise.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Eeek. I would assume in Des Moines they didn't bother to include the weekly newspapers such as Indianola or Altoona. Or maybe they are just toast.

    ReplyDelete
  26. So... copy editing will stay at the local publications. But they already wiped out copy editing at our publication. So who will copy edit now?

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am surprised that more people have not posted about the results of their emergency meeting today. Does anyone think their job will be eliminated? What was the outcome of the meetings? Is it positive, negative or something in between. Please post. Would love to hear your comments.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I want to know what happens if another tornado rips through Louisville, and the hub goes down on deadline. I can't figure out where realistic redundancies can be built in.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Louisville IT is very lean. There is one guy that runs News Gate after they made him lay off his assistant. I think that was short sided if they then plan to add all those papers into their system. I think Gannett has historically made bad choices when it comes to IT and technology. If there is a misstep in this hub project, it could get ugly. Good luck Louisville.

    ReplyDelete
  30. We heard that ad production was being consolidated, so it only makes sense that the company would decide to consolidate page design too. Bye Bye page designers. I assume that the next target will be the highest paid reporters and editors.

    ReplyDelete
  31. As I see it, editors and pubs have about five years before their jobs go, too. The relentless pressures to cut costs and improve revenue will not abate, and so it is natural that all these functions of editing and publishing will be consolidated. That leaves a few reporters and ad salesmen in local offices, coordinated by regional centers.
    Why five years? This goes into effect in 2011, and it will take a couple of years to iron out the problems. So plan accordingly. I also gree with others that it will inevitably lead to one-size-fits-all formats and the elimination of local quirks. So if we are going to one size-fits-all, why not just a few local pages added to USA Today?

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am interested to see what happens in the IT departments at the hubs. They should start hiring IT personnel as soon as possible. It takes a good six months to a year to learn how newspapers operate if you do not have newspaper experience.

    Does anyone currently in IT know how well the newsgate system is documented?

    How will pages be sent to the print sites? What format? What about the different press cutoffs? Could Gannett outsource the printing to standardize the differences in the various presses in Gannett?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Next target is I.T. Fewer butts in the chairs, using more and more standardized software, means Shindrakira the ad designer works her second shift asking if you've tried restarting your machine.

    And that sucks nearly as much as artists and page designers, because our I.T. has a lot of newspaper-specific software knowledge that just won't translate into plentiful opportunities. Good people, too.

    ReplyDelete
  34. 5:08 -- You are exactly right. I've mentioned several times on this site that what is happening to newspapers now happened to radio years ago.

    Most radio stations today are highly centralized operations that run with a handful of sales people and on-air staff. And, for the most part, that staff is poorly paid.

    Sure, radio is mostly terrible because of this, but that doesn't bother management because the sole motivation is profit.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Jim, thanks for your work on this. It's nice to have you back.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Yes, where is the drone who says you never post anything original? You were on top this one so much Dickey was forced to break away from his golf game to deal with the unproar.

    ReplyDelete
  37. 12:14 pm: I, too, heard that yesterday's meeting may have been a scramble.

    ReplyDelete
  38. In Muncie, employees who don't read this blog just found out about the consolidated sites today. And when an email and the FAQ were finally sent to news staff at 5 pm, there still was no staff mtg. And no acknowledgment that we didn't get the memo earlier because our new GM didn't get it until today.

    ReplyDelete
  39. For those who had to reapply for their jobs and were retained, if there any advice you can give those of us about to face the same thing?

    ReplyDelete
  40. I just love how at my site that everyone, including middle management, is kept in the dark about everything. Why is it that I had to be the one to tell them and then accused of being the bearer of bad news and being negative. I have to say, Gannett corporate has done an incredible job of keeping their middle management in the dark and extremely loyal. And they aren't even drinking the kool aid! How is that? I have to say, truly, it is amazing how insanely stupid these people are. No hard feelings, but it truly feels like these people have their heads in the sand. Even worse are the workers who upper manangement has groomed and they are totally loyal to their leader. I actually think this is much scarier. If you dare say something negative all the black arm band followers will condemn you. Now that is truly scary! I soo need to get the hell out of this madness!

    ReplyDelete

Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.