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.
Archive for June, 2011
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.