Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Observer’

McClatchy consolidating Carolinas copy desk

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

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.

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Weekly meeting today…
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2011 09:33:38 -0400
From: John Drescher <john.drescher@newsobserver.com>
To: allnews@nando.com

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

(Emphasis ours.)

***

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.

McClatchy cuts more in Charlotte, Lexington

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

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.

Charlotte Observer reverses e-mail request

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Charlotte Observer Editor Rick Thames said Monday the paper would shelve its request for local residents’ e-mail addresses. “While we did not view these invitations as a ‘commercial use’ of the e-mail lists, we respect the concerns of those who did,” he wrote on his Inside Story blog.

People registered with the Charlotte/Mecklenburg County website received  an e-mail last week explaining that the newspaper had requested the e-mail list and that, because of the state’s open records law, the local government had to provide the names. The request came from the newspaper’s director of strategic products and audience development.

Media critics, this blog included, complained about the move, suggesting that the ability to gather public information for profit is not the point of the state’s hard-won open records laws.

Thames said Monday the paper wanted the addresses “to invite citizens’ input on news coverage” and that they have other ways to do that.

So, is there where we all call them weenies now for backing down?

Elsewhere, Charlotte/Mecklenburg County notified its subscribers that it will seek legislation that would allow it to deny requests for e-mail databases and instead allow only public inspection of this information. Wake and Yadkin counties already have such exemptions.

E-mail info request for ‘better journalism’

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Update: Scott Hepburn, a Charlotte-based PR consultant, social media strategist, trainer and public speaker, explains in his Media Emerging blog why the Charlotte Observer’s grab of private citizens’ e-mail addresses is wrong.

***

Charlotte Observer Editor Rick Thames is defending the newspaper’s collection of what WFAE FM says is more than 20,000 e-mail addresses from Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.

“I’m using them to build better journalism,”  Thames told the radio station. “I think it’s good for the community, but I don’t see it as (benefiting the paper) anymore than it is for people in real estate to have records of home sales. Do you?”

People registered with the city/county website got an e-mail this week explaining that the newspaper had requested the e-mail list and that, because of the state’s open records law, the local government had to provide the names. The request came from the newspaper’s director of strategic products and audience development.

Thames says they want to ask people “if they would like to occasionally advise us on how we’re reporting and what they would like to know more from their government and more about their community.”

Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett calls the request “a blatant misuse of the ‘right-to-know’ laws by a for-profit company that is looking to expand its readership.”

(We were clued in to WFAE’s work on this by @McClatchyWatch.)

Observer taps city’s e-mail to develop ‘audience’

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Folks registered online with the City of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County got the e-mail below today, notifying them that The Charlotte Observer wants to know who they are. We’re not so sure the work to expand North Carolina’s open records laws was meant to benefit “Strategic Products and Audience Development” at the Observer.

From: CharMeck.org [mailto:webrequests@ci.charlotte.nc.us]
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 10:31 PM
To:
Subject: City of Charlotte Email Subscriber Notice

This is a courtesy notification that The Charlotte Observer has requested the City’s email subscriber list.

The City must provide this information under the North Carolina Public Records law.  Please direct any questions or concerns to the Charlotte Observer c/o Steve Gunn, Director of Strategic Products and Audience Development at sgunn@charlotteobserver.com or 704-358-5077 or 600 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC, 28202.

Simple Prescience

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

The Huffington Post sees into McClatchy’s future in North Carolina:

The Charlotte News & Observer notes a rather significant point of contention regarding Brown’s connection of HIV/AIDS victims to the gay community.”

Market analyst: newspapers going down

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Don’t let recent good news from newspaper publishers fool you, the stock market analysis website Seeking Alpha warns. The industry is dying.

The site keys on the relatively rosy picture pushed by McClatchy last month, saying “publishers across the board got a big boost when The McClatchy Company announced that its advertising revenue rose during the fourth quarter. What’s more, CEO Gary Pruitt said he expects these improvements to continue this year.

“As the third-largest newspaper publishing company in the United States, McClatchy’s news caused some bullish activity in the industry. But the fact remains that we’re talking about newspapers here. So even though McClatchy publishes more than 70 of them – including The Miami Herald and The Charlotte Observer – they’re still just … well, newspapers.”

And, in fact, since the first of the year, McClatchy’s Kansas City Star has announced layoffs, while at  The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., buyouts have been mentioned by management amid rumors of furloughs and layoffs. At Gannett, one-week furloughs in the first quarter are already policy at most of its papers, while some of its papers in New Jersey face much more drastic measures.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post said this week it returned to profitability in 2010 and expected to remain profitable in 2011.

Seeking Alpha leads the reader through the familiar decline of newspapers, concluding that “a daily paper simply can’t compete with the up-to-the-second Internet in terms of news. Plus, there’s the added incentive that the Internet is free, leaving publishers scrambling to find a way to successfully monetize their online product.”

Online advertising revenue presents a glimmer of hope,  including a 13.9 percent gain in the second quarter of 2010 – the first quarterly gain since 2008, and a rise in McClatchy’s online revenue for the quarter that boosted its stock price.

“But even if this trend continues, it’s still not enough to combat the rapid decline of printed ad revenue,” Seeking Alpha says. “The numbers have been in a freefall for 14 consecutive quarters … with no end in sight.

“The bottom line is that newspaper publishers are going down. They won’t all bite the dust, of course. But it will take a few more years of closings, mergers and tinkering with online advertising before the real winners emerge. So don’t let McClatchy’s bounce fool you – this is one industry to dodge.”

Charlotte’s online newspaper for the masses

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

In a detailed Charlotte Magazine piece about the Internet-age transformation of the Charlotte Observer, Publisher Ann Caulkins predicts 20 percent of the company’s total ad revenue will come from the Internet by year’s end and in five years nearly half will be from the Web.

But while its 22 Facebook pages, 31 Twitter feeds and 40+ blogs bring the Observer more readers than ever, so far the online transformation isn’t paying the bills.

“At the top of the front page, the Observer brags it is ‘Read by 1 million+ in print and online.’ The total monthly number of different readers from everywhere is a whopping 2.3 million, which would have been a staggering number of readers for any newspaper in the pre-Internet days. Therein lies the problem. As sportswriter [Ron Green Jr.] puts it, ‘If you look at our business model, we’re trying to sell something (the news) that’s now free.’ Basically, if you read the Observer website in the evening, you won’t learn much new by purchasing next morning’s print edition. The other problem with the Observer’s business model is that it really relies on advertising revenue, and so far, an online ad brings in a fraction of the revenue a print ad does.”

Meanwhile, the money-making “print edition has lost one out of five readers in the past six years, and Sunday readership is down 8 percent in the same time frame,” the magazine says.

In the future, Caulkins predicts, the print edition will be a niche publication “mainly for the affluent and well educated, a readership highly coveted by advertisers.” The Web will be for the masses.

Charlotte Observer tries 3D in paper, online

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

The Charlotte Observer goes 3D Sunday with its special section for the beginning of race week at Charlotte Motor Speedway and will follow up with a 3D photo in the paper every day next week, editor Rick Thames explained Thursday.

The Sunday paper will come with 3D glasses for viewing racing photos in the paper and online at CharlotteObserver.com and That’sRacin.com.

“Our sports and photo staffs sifted through hundreds of great racing moments from our archives for this 20-page section, Thames said. “It includes legendary drivers, faithful fans, grinding competition on the track and furious action in the pits.”

The Observer’s director of  photography, Bert Fox, said editors looked for depth, action and simplicity. “As 3D images, foreground objects come at you and background objects fall off,” Fox said. “In the photos, race cars stretch far into the background, a pit crew looks like they’ll jump into your lap, drivers jump in the arms of race fans and helicopters fly off the page.”

And, since readers will have the glasses, Thames said, they figured they should give them more to look at from Charlotte and the region throughout the week.

McClatchy planning to become hub for local sites

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

McClatchy newspapers are bringing other local Web sites and blogs onto their home sites in “blog networks,” starting at the Sacramento Bee and coming soon to the Charlotte Observer and Miami Herald.

“The Bee has been working on the concept for about a year,” says the Sacramento Business Journal. “Editors and multimedia managers collected and reviewed sites, ranking them based on quality of content and frequency of posts.”

The Bee’s effort is called “Sacramento Connect” and so far features about a dozen blogs.

“We see that that’s the direction that the Web is going and we really want to be a part of that,” Sean McMahon, The Bee’s digital product development manager, told the Business Journal. “We have a trusted position in the area, and we thought it was time to embrace all these independent voices and bring them in and try to promote them.”

The thinking is traffic to all the sites would improve, the Business Journal says.

“At least two other McClatchy Co. newspapers” — The Observer and The Herald — are developing similar networks, the report says.

In Raleigh, The News & Observer has made similar attempts to become a local portal.  Its Triangle.com includes a section called “Share” for local blogs and forums meant to be produced locally through the site.