Friday, February 24, 2012

Report: Hubs 'protect distinctive local content'

Gannett filed its annual 10-K report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday. This post is one in a series highlighting passages from the document.

The following three paragraphs are word-for-word from a section on last year's activities:

Several initiatives were designed to protect distinctive local content:
  • Gannett created Design Studios to handle the layout and design of every daily publication as well as weeklies, magazines and other products printed on paper. Loyal print readers expect sophisticated design. To create platform-perfect print design, studios were opened in five sites and staffed with top designers from across the country. The design production for local sites started moving into the studios mid-year and will be complete by December 2012. The studios are operationally efficient while building better design for publications across the company.
  • "Content Evolution” is a program Gannett rolled out in fall 2011 to tailor content to key audiences in local communities. Its foundation is an expectation that the local staffs conduct deep research into local residents’ changing interests and use of technology. Only by understanding how people want to consume information today can journalists create experiences on various platforms. Content Evolution respects that Baby Boomer print readers in New Jersey will be different from Baby Boomer print readers in Florida or Oregon. Each site was charged with conducting research, shaping a content plan for today’s readers, and restructuring to create the new content.

'Distinctive' vs. uniform
The Design Studios are charged with building newspaper pages for nearly all the 80 U.S. community papers, including The Cincinnati Enquirer. So far, only 16 publication have completed their move; the rest will do so by the end of the year, the 10-K report says.

Under the initial timetable, all the papers were to have completed the move by summer 2012. Software glitches have contributed to a delay, however.

In launching the hubs, the company adopted a fixed, uniform set of typefaces and fonts to speed page production.

In a just-concluded online chat today with Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn, reader Howard in Sycamore Township wrote:

"Would you please change the font in the print Enquirer? Your old font -- I believe it was Times Roman -- was much cleaner. Your current font is not only more difficult to read, it is like The Wall Street Journal before color -- all gray. Use Times or Georgia, as other papers do. I can't believe other readers prefer it."

Washburn said the paper is "talking about fonts" as it prepares to switch to a more compact format by the end of the year.


  1. I don't know why this myth lives that the design studios are cranking out clones -- the papers each have their own identities. The five at my hub don't look anything like each other.

  2. The daily paper dropped in my driveway hasn't changed one bit from how it was prior to the design studio. At least not that I would notice. I only know that they've switched to these design studios as I have a friend who works there.

  3. Please stop...this is embarrassing.

  4. As they set up these hubs I hope they look to how they set up the GPC and take a few lessons from that. The number one thing they need to do for longevity of employees and quality work in the new hubs is allowing ownership. GPC combined ad design services and built a system where designers do not see an ad through from beginning to end. Thus you don't have any ownership of your work. No true work samples, nothing for your portfolio and designers have no sense of learning and growing from producing a final product. This has resulted in an extremely high turnover. Constant turnover has resulted in lower quality ad design. Etc.

  5. I hear Washburn interviewed for the Usa Today job. Good luck, CW!

  6. After Silverman demanded an interview, they decided it would be PC to interview the top editors from the Community papers. More for show, but it's happening. Some minority No.2's as well.

  7. Interesting the Silverman has popped up again. He would definitely cause upheaval in editorial, which is sorely needed. Washburn would be a serious downgrade from Hillkirk though.

  8. 2:50, re: no clones. Can you send some images to Hopkins so he can post your examples?

  9. Ownership? That's a laugh. The senior managers at several of the Design Studios promoted their own local boys and girls to be in charge of papers they had never even looked at, and snubbed senior and more experienced designer editors at the local paper who were told to takes what amounts to a "design 3" job as compensation.

    It's the same old Gannett - Keep your friends close and your ass kissers closer.

    Thank God I got out and found something in time. The stories I've heard about the centers makes me realize it would have been a career deadend.

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  11. Washburn's answers were about as non informative as you can get. From past experience I know if she gave those vague answers to her highness Buchanan she would have had her head handed to her. Oh wait she is part of the chosen few so I'm sure she skated on this.


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