Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reader: GCI has nerve to call papers 'hometown'

Regarding the loss of artist jobs in the TV division, a reader says of Gannett's drive to consolidate work in faraway locations: "They have the nerve to send photo toning out of state, broadcast graphics to Denver, stories to a copy desk several counties away, and ad production to India, and then call themselves your town's 'hometown newspaper.' . . . There is a very intrinsic value to having your local news produced by those who know the community."

Join the debate, in the original post.


  1. "There is a very intrinsic value to having your local news produced by those who know the community."

    Photo toning isn't news. Broadcast graphic production (as opposed to its content) isn't news. Copy desk work doesn't create news (or shouldn't if people do their jobs properly). And ads are not news.

    The local news is still produced by those who know the community or the content the best.

    Don't really know what your beef is...

  2. OK, but do not leave out the ones that do matter locally, like customer service that was centralized to Kentucky. How is someone in Kentucky going to know why a paper in Fort Myers Florida wasn't delivered in a certain neighborhood?
    And going back to "local news is still produced by those who know the community" That is a joke, the ones who really knew the community left to work in PR for the schools, companies or municipalities they use to cover. So now you have 20 somethings right out of school in a new place trying to get the know the community instead of the veteran who grew up and lived in the community who jumped ship or took the buyout. Lastly, you have these useless Gannett managers that are shipped hear from a previous Gannett location and they are new to the community and they are not exactly on the streets or rubbing elbows with the towns people. HOW'S THAT FOR BEEF!!

  3. I'm sorry, but copy editing is local. They need to know names, community sensibility, news value and context as much -- if not more -- than reporters. It's not just about the reporters, it's about the whole institution. Much as we might like to imagine, the newspaper isn't just about the copy jocks.

  4. Silly, silly. The answer is simple. The old world consisted of everything, and everyone local...hometown. It was Americana at its best. Now its about "bucks" only. The lowest bidder gets the deal. Just like the whores that American capitalism has become. Gannett has just become the latest of whores. Paint that picture and put it into the nauseum.

  5. Every paper in the chain ceased being a hometown paper when purchased by Gannett. Decision-making is top down from headquarters. Profits flow out of town and into corporate/shareholder coffers.
    Chain papers are as "hometown" as the corner McDonald's -- or maybe less so, since those could be franchises owned locally.

  6. don't be silly -- gannett has always been a whore -- 30% profits didn't come from being a sweet young thing. but like a lot of whores, gannett got lazy and didn't put out good value for the money.

    so now gannett is getting much less than in the old days, because it can't lure the johns as easily now.

  7. It's funny... I'm an advertising artist that physically drove to meet with a client today that spends thousands of dollars to advertise 3-4 times weekly. They loved the ideas that I gave them for their business. By being able to sit across the table I could see what they were currently running and could tell why it wasn't working for them...

    I then thought... wait till this all goes overseas and she'll be doing this over the phone with a sales rep in the middle... I just can't see how Gannett thinks this is better. I understand tightening belts... but there is NO WAY that the advertisers will get any where close to what they're wanting by someone thousands of miles away... Generic SPECS... perhaps they might get something they can walk in to a cold call...

    These advertisers better get their own graphic artists or expect CRAP... Then they'll stop running because they're not seeing any results... how's that for progress...

  8. "I'm sorry, but copy editing is local. They need to know names, community sensibility, news value and context as much -- if not more -- than reporters."

    I would disagree. That's how it is now, but things can and should change. Copy editors don't need to know names. That's for the Reporter to get right and the reviewing editor to make sure gets right. They don't need to know community sensibiity, news value, and context. That's for the senior editors that budgeted the story where it's going and the reviewing editor as the final check.

    You need to have folks do the jobs that they've been hired to do or redesign their jobs so that they realize their new accountabilities.

    I can see that at some point you might wish to stop having them called copy editors. Perhaps page composers or something working in a composing room. Wait, that sounds familar...

  9. anon @ 8:42, that's just one example of how local ad production helps. And there are others - for example, the artist that knows the community identity of a client. Many times, the designers have shopped at or bought things from a client. (We have always been encouraged to shop our advertisers first, which is a good business practice anyway.) They have a better idea of what the customer might like than the designer halfway across the globe. Some of these clients are very well known around the community, but someone in India only has a layout and some copy to go from. And there's also the factor that money an artist earns goes back into the community, and in many cases back to the advertisers that made their job possible in the first place.

    This is just one example. There's a lot of banter above about copy editors - I know several of the copy editors, even though I'm not in their department. On the occasions that I've had to interface with them, it's immediately clear what the value of having someone who knows the community is. When you deal with someone who just moved into town not long ago, it can be harder to get facts straightened out. I've been in my town for 31 years, and there's a lot of shared knowledge that we longtime locals have that can't be taught. Anything that saves the paper from printing a copy correction is a Very Good Thing.

    There are a lot of the other jobs that are being sent out of town. The customer service office example above is a perfect example of that. When you lose the local expertise, and you send the profits out of town, you lose the right to be called a local paper.

  10. Since many of the reporters are under-paid 20-somethings fresh out of college, you REALLY need a copy desk well-versed in local businesses, schools, communities, government and its people.

    Given their unfamiliarity of the communities due to their youth and inexperience and the swelling workloads (video and audio in addition to print), the proper amount of time isn't taken to ensure names, towns, businesses, etc. are spelled correctly and, in some cases, quotes are used in their proper context.

    This is where copy editors who know their community, who know the NDM, are invaluable - and should be championed.

  11. gannett papers especially need copy editors, because everyone gannett puts into a position of authority is from somewhere else. and most are hoping to GO somewhere else in a couple of years because it's the only way to move up the food chain.

    an outsider isn't going to know how many people died in a major disaster 30 years ago, or that of two people with similar names, one is a chronic drunk-driving offender and the other is a much-honored teacher, or that street a is one way north-south between point a and point b.

    i'm not sure that printing a correction of every single small error has helped improve our credibility with the public, but i know that consolidating, outsourcing or eliminating the copy desk would invite a credibility disaster where i work.

  12. There's the reporter and then there's the editor who is that reporter's direct manager. Then, if you must, institute a policy that a third person has to read the story (how long can that take?).

    Once you do that, I really don't see why you have to have a page designer be the final sign-off on a story.

    On top of which, the copy editor is the person who's putting the story on the printed page. If you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, that story should have been up on the web hours before. Are you telling me that you're okay with inaccuracies with stories sent out the digital channel, but God help us if they appear on the printed page.

    Time to join the 21st century...

  13. As more and more production (news gathering, editing, ad building, photo work, printing, etc.) is being moved out of a newspaper's home market it’s not hard to image that someday, someone will challenge the “hometown newspaper” claims with a state’s attorney general, consumer agency, etc. to force a very public change.

    If I were a competitor, I know I’d attempt to publically expose it beyond advertisers. And, I’d also use that information to challenge the other often used phrase that has helped newspapers stand above all others – a trusted source for news and information.


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