Skip to comments.(Newspaper) Consolidation torrent continues (Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
Posted on 12/26/2008 5:06:46 AM PST by abb
It began as a trickle.
The February 2005 announcement that Copley Press Inc. would shutter presses used to print the Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif., and transfer printing and packaging to Southwest Offset Printing was among the first tangible indications that outsourcing and plant consolidation would be a potent weapon with which publishers would corral costs.
Almost four years later, that trickle is a flood, with newspapers from coast to coast closing or getting ready to close their printing facilities as they race to control expenses.
Those closures include plants operated by some of the industrys largest newspapers, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe. The Los Angeles Times shuttered its San Fernando Valley plant in late 2005 just months after Tribune Co. spent millions of dollars upgrading the facilitys presses.
Today, the torrent shows no sign of abating. Within the next 12 months, dozens of other plants will print their last newspapers, including those now operated by the San Francisco Chronicle, Palm Beach (Fla.) Post and (Boise) Idaho Statesman.
And shutting press and packaging facilities is only part of the equation. Publishers are also looking at ways to share other resources, including distribution and, most recently, newsgathering even if that means partnering with rivals.
Just recently, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times and Miami Herald said theyd work together to staff a Tallahassee bureau and even the arch-rival Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram are exploring ways to more efficiently deploy their respective reporting staffs.
Publishers are looking at everything because they have to cut costs and/or increase revenues, said Dario DiMare, president of Dario Designs Inc. DDI is involved with more than a dozen projects that span consolidation, outsourcing and partnering. They range from the story to the porch, DiMare said.
DiMare said his discussions with publishers show they are willing to evaluate partnerships they never would have considered before.
Look at whats happening with sharing news, he said. If you have a centralized news desk (among rival papers), then youd be able to take some reporters and let them cover local news in their own communities instead of sending everyone to cover the same event.
The end game is not only is the paper saving money, its also producing a better product, and potentially generating some new revenue by exploiting their ability to cover local events, and that translates to better coverage, DiMare said. Thats a much better option than just cutting people.
Even as publishers attempt to rein in costs, others are reaping the benefits. Tribune, for example, will make money and fill press capacity when the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale begins printing and packaging the Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach News and La Palma, publications owned by Cox Newspapers Inc.
The same is holding true at The (Baltimore) Sun, which began printing the rival Washington Times earlier this year; and at Dow Jones Chicopee, Mass., plant, which now produces the Boston Herald.
Pioneer Newspapers Inc. will also see its revenues grow when it starts printing rival McClatchy-owned newspapers in Boise and Bellingham, Wash.
Each of the papers that decided to silence its presses made a decision that printing is no longer a core competency, a conclusion more publishers are reaching, DiMare said.
Theyre saying they will consider whatever it takes to save money or generate revenue, including partnering, outsourcing or becoming the major printer for others in a region, he said. In other words, its either go big and have the advanced presses and postproduction necessary to print commercially as well as produce the core newspaper or go home.
Shipping printing to an outside site, even if the same publisher owns it, brings with it other factors publishers have to assess.
Press times, and depending upon distance, transportation of the finished editions from a remote site, could put a damper on anticipated reader benefits and cost savings, respectively.
The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal, for example, acknowledged its deadlines will be moved up after it moves printing and packaging to The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., 45 miles distant. The Palladium-Item in Richmond, Ind., is almost 75 miles from The Indianapolis Star, which will begin producing the paper next month.
And The Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home, Ark., is being printed more than two hours away on the press operated by the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. Tom Tate, who serves as both general manager of The Bulletin and production/IT director at the News-Leader, told Newspapers & Technology he didnt think the quality of the Mountain Home paper would be compromised by the daily journey. On the contrary, he said, the color and printing capabilities of the News-Leaders manroland press would make The Bulletin an even more attractive option for readers and advertisers.
Dollars and sense
Its all about economics, said Ken Harding, president of Harding Consulting Alliance, of the factors driving consolidation.
Harding said 70 percent of his business involves consolidation studies, including one just completed for McClatchy in which The News-Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., began printing the nearby Olympian in Olympia, Wash.
Publishers are beginning to give up some things, so were seeing a greater compromise in terms of rolling back deadlines and other considerations, he said.
They dont necessarily want to do it, but to drive revenues, theyre willing to do what they need to do, he said, adding that he knows of one publisher evaluating whether or not to roll back deadlines by one hour. Another, he said, is mulling a 9 p.m. deadline of the main sheet with a later deadline to accommodate late sports scores.
An earlier deadline would give carriers more time to throw papers and also enable publishers to reduce the number of carriers needed for distribution.
Harding said plant-closing decisions dont come easily. Its really difficult to make that move, he said, even when a publisher is evaluating shifting production to a sister newspaper. Once you make a decision to shut down a press, its intractable. Youre not going to be firing it up again. Dow Jones to close more plants?
Dow Jones, which earlier this year closed a suburban Denver printing plant and is the midst of shuttering a suburban Chicago facility, could close another 10 of its 17 existing production plants over the next 15 months.
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch told financial analysts last month that outsourcing printing and delivery of The Wall Street Journal and related publications to other printers and newspapers is likely as the company examines ways to reduce costs.
Our plan over the next year, maybe 15 months, would be to close 10 of those and outsource that printing to other newspapers, both the printing and delivery, Murdoch said.
Each closed facility could net Dow Jones annual savings in excess of $3 million, Murdoch said.
Murdoch also said the company is realizing savings by merging certain back-office functions at the New York Post and Wall Street Journal.
Dow Jones transferred printing of the Colorado edition of The Journal to the Denver Newspaper Agency while the Chicago Tribune reportedly will begin printing The Journal once the Naperville, Ill., print site is closed this month.
While the publisher is looking for ways to cut costs, it is upgrading operations at its South Brunswick, N.J., plant. It tapped Ferag and Goss International Corp. for postpress systems that will allow the publisher to place inserts in papers slated for delivery in the New York metropolitan area.
Among newspapers that have said they will close, or have already closed, production plants, since 2005:
Citizen-Times in Asheville, N.C.
New York Times (Edison, N.J.)
Los Angeles Times (SFV)
The Times in Trenton, N.J.
North Jersey Media Group (Hackensack, N.J.)
Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.
Dow Jones (suburban Denver and suburban Chicago)
The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville, Tenn.
The Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif.
Palm Beach (Fla.) Post
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (downtown plant)
Denver Newspaper Agency (former Denver Post plant)
The Courier in Waterloo, Iowa
San Angelo (Texas) Reporter-News
The Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home, Ark.
Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal
The Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise
The Olympian in Olympia, Wash.
The (Boise) Idaho Statesman
Bellingham (Wash.) Herald
The Recorder in Greenfield, Mass.
Northwest Florida Daily News in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Stevens Point (Wis.) Journal
The Modesto (Calif.) Bee
The Gleaner in Henderson, Ky.
The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va.
Muskegon (Mich.) Chronicle
Bradenton (Fla.) Herald
Detroit Newspaper Partnership
Santa Cruz (Calif.) Sentinel
San Francisco Chronicle
Patriot-Ledger in Quincy, Mass.
Brockton (Mass.) Enterprise
The Times-News in Hendersonville, N.C.
Community Press (Cincinnati suburban weeklies)
Palladium-Item in Richmond, Ind.
McClatchy VP loses it: profanity-laced Christmas ourburst marks sad end to a decades-long career
Talk is cheap, but here’s my money
More debt issues for Star’s parent; stock price plummets
Dang. The newspapers are like Jason Voorhees. They just won’t die and be done with it.
For purely selfish reasons, I’m happy to see them linger and suffer a bit longer.
They will all blame the economy, not their biased reporting for their losses. By blaming the economy, they can also blame George Bush. It’s not their fault, dontcha see.
Even more good news will be when they start closing all those places that produce and distribute all of that Sunday insert garbage, The land fills will get a break.
Yeah, but there goes my Sunday ritual of going through all that....and maybe I will get a coupon!
Twilight of the Clods: McClatchy VP Goes Berserk
IT COULD GET CONDé NASTY
WEB, DOMINO, DETAILS COULD BE ‘JANUARY SURPRISE’ VICTIMS
Capital released: Their buildings (almost always in industrial areas) probably won't bring much at the present time, and there can't be any market for their used machinery.
Expenses saved: Most variable costs (e.g. paper, ink, etc.) will stay the same. The newspapers will reduce their number of pressmen, only to replace them with trucks, truck drivers, and fuel costs.
The trade off: Most newspapers try to hit the street at about the same time -- early morning hours. In order for their new printing plan to work, they are going to have to stagger release times (not everyone can print their material at the same time). This will give certain operations (those who own the presses) a significant competitive advantage.
Bottom Line: I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures, but it seems to me like our friends are clutching at straws.
Linotype machine, circa 1920
Kansas City Star printing plant, circa 2006
Not a happy New Year for newspapers
Hey, watch that! :-) I operated one of those Linotypes/Intertypes between 1955-1967. Was a great trade and gave me good pay and a chance to see the country in my shiftless/unmarried days as a tramp printer.
I loved that business and developed a great respect for the Fourth Estate back in those days.
All gone now. Just good memories of good times.
Myself. Been a news junkie for 50 years. About the late 60's the Fourth Estate became a propaganda organ for Marxism.
FYI..AP reports that NY Times is looking to sell its 17% share of the Red Sox...
* DECEMBER 26, 2008
Times Co. Seeks Buyer for Its Stake In Red Sox
By RUSSELL ADAMS
Seeking to fortify its core assets, New York Times Co. is actively shopping its stake in the holding company of the Boston Red Sox baseball club, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
Times Co., which faces a cash shortage accelerated by steep industrywide revenue declines, has been rumored for months to be open to selling noncore assets. Besides its flagship newspaper, Times Co. owns the Boston Globe, About.com and a 17.5% stake in New England Sports Ventures, which owns the Red Sox, their fabled ballpark Fenway Park and most of the cable network that airs the team’s games.
Times Co. pushed discussions beyond the exploration phase early last month at a quarterly meeting of NESV’s limited partners, at which the company indicated to the partnership its intention to sell. Since then Times Co. has been pursuing potential buyers, according to people familiar with the discussions. Barclays Capital has pegged the value of the investment at about $166 million. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.
Times Co. acquired its stake in NESV when it joined John Henry in the hedge-fund billionaire’s $700 million purchase of the Red Sox in 2002. The company is the second-largest shareholder behind Mr. Henry, who created NESV. The stake was supposed to shore up the Globe’s advertising position in New England by packaging the Globe with New England Sports Network, one of the most powerful television outlets in the region. But it wasn’t enough to stop the decline in advertisers and readers.
So true. I mostly worked the country weeklies then and on more than one occasion heard the editor chew out a reporter along the lines of "Folks don't want your OPINION, they want FACTS!" Later on the journalism schools satrted turning out people who thought it was their job to mould peoples' opinions instead of "just the facts ma'am". They are reaping what they sowed.
The papers will be transported before being delivered!!
There is currently under way an effort to return the Fairness Doctrine that will in effect limit free speech on the public airways. The Federal Communications Commission can reinstate the rule with no action by the US Congress or the President. The thought is that utterances on the radio must be fair and that a second view must be given equal time.
The public airways are actually a spectrum that has been divided into numerous specific frequency ranges that are corridors along which a radio wave carrying information is transmitted. These discrete licensed spectra are in actuality corridors along which information is carried. This proposed action regulating the information carried is a Federal matter since the airways are considered to be part of interstate commerce and require a Federal license. The states have no say in the matter.
The purpose of this essay is to develop a logical thought pattern that will permit the various States to gain some control of intra state transmission of information. That would be particularly true of my State, Tennessee.
Within the State of Tennessee information is transmitted and transferred by several methods but in this piece consideration will be restricted to two, printed publications and cable TV.
All printed material be it newspapers manufactured within the state borders or magazines, CDs, DVDs, recorded tapes or other similar publications from numerous sources are transported on the Tennessee public streets, roads and highways. These transportation corridors are in every respect similar to the spectral corridors regulated by the FCC except the roadways are regulated by the state of Tennessee. It is there fore a very logical step to conclude that based on the logic of information flow regulation by the FCC over federally regulated corridors, a similar regulatory body can be established by the State to assure that fairness is achieved in information carried or transported on the state regulated corridors and roadways. Printed publications must be fair to be transported over public ways.
In a similar vein, the state of Tennessee should be able to regulate the use of rights of way that are actually part of the same streets, roads and highways noted above. These rights of way are heavily used for various purposes including the physical presence of fiber optic and coaxial cable that are in fact information corridors similar to the FCC regulated corridors that are the public airways. The cable companies transporting on the public rights of way should be subject to the same fairness regulations governing the printed media transported on the adjacent roadways. Cable information must be fair to be transported over public rights of way.
There is no difference. Printed media and cable TV information are both transported along public ways .There is no difference between printed medis transported over public roads and voice utterances transmitted over radio waves. Thoughts are transmitted over public ways.
Then there is the question of the first amendment and free speech. It can be argued that such regulation is a violation of the First Ammendment to the Constitution. That is obviously not the case or the FCC would not be able to impose the Fairness Doctrine. There is no action in the regulation preventing the free exercise of the right to say what ever the writer or publisher or news commentator desires. They can say what ever they want with no fear of any retribution by the State of Tennessee. If they desire to propagate the speech using the public ways, then they are subject to fairness regulation. The precedent for the State regulatory authority is the FCC regulated Federal authority.
If the public ways are restricted, then how can the speech material be propagated? The answer is quite simple. If the speaker wants to sell his material, he can set up a place of business where the public can come and buy what ever is for sale. The speaker can also go into an out of door site and speak whatever comes to mind to all within earshot. His rights of free speech are not restricted by regulations of the transport of the medium packets. It is the transport of those information packets on public ways that is regulated.
 All liberals are the enemy, but liberals outside of New York are the loser enemy. The whole point of being a liberal is to live in New York. Liberals consider it nirvana to live in Manhattan, so any liberals not living in New York are obviously too stupid to get jobs there. ...
Most newspapers in the red states - even nice states like Mississippi - are run by loser liberals who rub their foreskin while reading the New York Times. The various Times wannabes around the country have adopted the Times' politics, but don't have the native intelligence to pull it off, so they end up sounding more like Cindy Sheehan than a newspaper written by adults.