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The Baltimore Sun’s John McIntyre, in his You Don’t Say blog, nails the “shabby expedient” being practiced by McClatchy newspapers in its dismantling of the copy desk at The News & Observer in Raleigh in favor of a production center in Charlotte.
Andy Bechtel, a copy editor who teaches at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill and writes The Editor’s Desk blog, offers a tribute to N&O copy editors and designers, whose jobs were eliminated in favor a production center in Charlotte this week (see the post below).
“I am sad for my former colleagues, and I worry about the quality of the newspaper that I still read every day,” he writes. “I am also angry that hard-working journalists must bear the brunt of McClatchy’s debt and business decisions.”
Among the many Facebook comments he posts, surely from a reporter: “Who’ll save my ass now?”
Update: Not 24 hours after telling his copy editors and designers their jobs were being eliminated, N&O Senior VP/Executive Editor John Drescher set the weekly staff meeting for hours before designers and copy editors come in for the day. Looks like they’re not his problem any more.
at 2 pm in the McDaniels conference room.
And, from The N&O’s Afternoon Update today, why copy editors are important:
|Thousands of marijuana plants discovered in Chatham|
|Authorities discovered 1,784 marijuana plants growing in southern Chatham County on June 1, the sheriff’s office said.
Updated Jun. 7, 2011 8:21 AM | Full Story
Managers at the The News & Observer in Raleigh told about 25 copy editors and page designers on Monday that their jobs were being transferred to a new production hub at the Charlotte Observer. The move is to start over the summer and be fully in effect by mid-September.
The Charlotte production center will produce The N&O and its 10 community papers, including The Chapel Hill News, The Cary News and The Herald in Smithfield. The Charlotte copy desk already prepares The Herald of nearby Rock Hill, S.C.
Look for McClatchy’s South Carolina papers, including The State in Columbia and the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, to eventually be added to the Charlotte production hub, though their managers are waging the same futile fight against it that The N&O’s management lost.
N&O employees will be able to move to positions in Charlotte and get a $5,000 relocation stipend plus one week’s pay per year worked with The N&O, up to 13 weeks.
Some Raleigh copy desk managers will lose their supervisory duties and take pay cuts as Charlotte takes over, and others at the top of their pay ranges may see their pay cut or frozen, a company memo says. Pay cuts are not to exceed 10 percent and would come at the end of the year.
Those who don’t want to move will get the standard severance package of two week’s pay per year worked up to 26 weeks and COBRA insurance assistance. All Charlotte copy desk employees are being offered buyouts with the same deal.
Many of the copy editors and designers now in Raleigh are veteran workers (because most of the young workers have been laid off already) with ties to the community and are not expected to move. This will allow McClatchy to hire new and younger designers and copy editors for less money or make do with fewer.
The move is another attempt to bail water instead of repairing the ship. McClatchy is incrementally merging the Charlotte and Raleigh papers, having already merged the Sports and Features departments and the Capital bureau in Raleigh, but hasn’t shown what it will take to make the big, final, inevitable move.
Most positions are being physically moved toward Charlotte instead of to the state capital because the Charlotte office building inherited when McClatchy bought the paper from Knight Ridder is vastly superior to the dingy offices of The N&O in Raleigh. And because Charlotte managers continuously prevail in negotiations with N&O brass.
Newspaper ad revenue continues its slide in first quarter numbers released this week showing a drop of 9.48 percent in print revenue that struggles up to an overall fall of 7 percent when it’s levened by gains in online.
Revenues from online sales increased 10.6 percent to $807.9 million, according to Newspaper Association of America numbers, but even that was down from a 14 percent gain in the final quarter of 2010.
This quarter’s $4.7 billion in print revenue is off 55 percent from the first quarter of 2006, making it the 20th straight quarter of year-over-year print revenue declines.
Alan D. Mutter of Reflections of a Newsosaur called the news “an unexpectedly sharp decline” and said “newspapers now appear to be entering the sixth year of an unprecedented collapse.”
Eric Sass at Media Daily News said then numbers “suggest that newspaper print ad revenues are locked into a permanent, long-term decline.”
Revenue from online advertising represented a 14.5 percent share of total newspaper ad dollars in the first quarter of the year, an all-time high.
On the print side, national ads dropped 11 percent, retail declined 9.5 percent, and classifieds slid 8.15 percent.
PBS will begin adding commercials to its shows this fall, according to the New York Times.
The public television network, which has always named corporate sponsors and underwriters at the beginning and end of programs, plans to insert “corporate and foundation sponsor spots, promotional messages and branding” into four breaks during “Nova” and “Nature” on Wednesday nights. The new approach would eventually expand night-by-night, PBS officials told member stations at its recent annual meeting in Orlando.
Some shows, like “Masterpiece Theater,” might not be interrupted, but generally the network would go from uninterrupted programming to having no longer than 15 minutes of programming without a commercial break, The Times says.
The current block of sponsor acknowledgements between shows can stretch for eight minutes and cause viewers to look elsewhere, the report points out. The new approach would eliminate downtime between programs.
On the other hand, part of PBS’ appeal is uninterrupted programming, and some suggest the change could hurt donations, which are increasingly important in the face of pressure to cut government funding.
Update: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where circulation has grown by more than 12 percent in the last year, is eliminating 45 positions, affecting almost all departments of the newspaper, including news, production, advertising and circulation.
The Charlotte Observer follows The News & Observer and others last week with its announcement this week of 26 positions being cut, as the Lexington Herald-Leader announces the elimination of 15 jobs, the Associated Press says.
Charlotte will also freeze 25 vacant positions. Four positions will be lost from Charlotte’s newsroom.
Lexington’s lost jobs include four now vacant.
McClatchy newspapers announced the elimination of about 100 positions in Raleigh, Miami, Kansas City and Bellingham, Wash., last week following a first quarter report that showed a $1.96 million loss as ad revenue plunged 11 percent year-over-year.
Business Insider/The Wire looks at the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ top performing newspapers and finds “25 Papers That Have The Best Chance Of Being Around In 10 Years,” among which McClatchy newspapers are well represented.
“The Chicago Sun-Times — home of the much-loved and always popular Roger Ebert,” Business Insider explains — “led the list with a jump of 48.41 percent between March 2010 to March 2011.”
McClatchy’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram is second on the list with a 12.79 percent change in circulation from ’10 to ’11. The Miami Herald weighs in at 15th, where the growth is a meager 3.16 percent, but is growth nevertheless, and across the peninsula, the Bradenton Herald was 20th with a 1.6 percent uptick in circulation.