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Louisiana Gannett papers to implement regional copy desk

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by StaggerLee, May 29, 2009.

  1. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Well-Known Member

    Didn't see a topic on this, so forgive me if it's d_b.

    Louisiana Gannett papers announced Thursday that in July the five state newspapers would go to a regional copy desk. Essentially, all five papers -- Shreveport, Monroe, Lafayette, Opelousas and Alexandria -- will be paginated at one location, Monroe. The logistics haven't really been worked out, from what we can gather, so apparently it's still very much in the planning stages.

    What it basically means is that existing copy editors will be allowed to keep their job, if they move to Monroe. The ones that don't accept the transfer to Monroe will allegedly get severance and be shown the door. As of now, there's to be 24 copy editors at this regional copy desk and three supervisors.

    It appears to be a cost-cutting measure, but nobody could quite figure out how it's going to save cost if they're not planning on releasing any of the current copy editors. It's also still going to require someone back at the other shops to stick around and proof pages and do press check. So you're not saving hours there, you've still got people working late back at the other shop.

    Theoretically, it will give those sports guys who do both paginating and writing ample time to concentrate on writing. Also theoretically, it could lead to said layout/writer dudes being laid off because their now-obsolete paginating skills were keeping them around.

    I don't know how to feel about the whole thing right now. If implemented correctly, it could be a good thing for sports staffs. It could allow some talented writers who have layout responsibilities to really play to their strengths instead of spreading themselves thin. It could allow sports staffs to be more flexible as far as work schedules are concerned because you no longer need those three or four guys around until midnight helping to proof pages and pick up those late pages.

    At the same time, high school football Friday nights could be disastrous. Saturday nights during college football could be catastrophic. It's difficult enough for a sports staff to get out on Friday nights with all hands on deck. Imagine a regional copy desk trying to get four (Opelousas doesn't have a Saturday edition) papers out on Friday nights, knowing full well a half-dozen or so will be off. I guess the one positive is that you won't be taking calls/writing roundups/finishing gamers while also laying out.

    So, that's the news.

    P.S. We were told at our shop that this regional copy desk won't prevent future layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts, etc. So, the rumors that Gannett is about to implement another round of layoffs persist.
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    The thing that I don't understand (besides trying to get people to quit their jobs), is, with the technology being used today, why not just keep people at their current shops and just have them do the same work they would do at a combined operation.
  3. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    That they are forcing paginators to move some three hours from their home cities in some cases (Lafayette) makes it sound like they are trying to get them to quit.

    That they are making them move to Funroe clinches that theory. Not only are folks from Lafayette, Opelousas and Shreveport not going to want to move to Monroe, but folks in Monroe may quit because now they don't have a move to Lafayette or Shreveport as an aspiration any more.

    Alexandria folks might look at it as an upgrade and be excited.

    Just kidding Alexandria people out there...
  4. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I can say that without a doubt that this will be a disaster.
    Here's why:
    • 27 people aren't enough to layout five papers. Even if you are talking small sections that just means you'll 4 or 6 or 8 unique pages per section because of the ad stacks. So because of the smaller sections, you won't have any common pages.
    • Local photos will be a problem as well. Even if the photo techs are working out of Monroe or the individual photogs are toning each shot, it will cause a bottleneck on getting pages down.
    • Tight deadline nights like Friday, Saturday and election season will be a major headache.
    • Communication will be a problem because section and top editors will want the covers to look a certain way but because of either not communicating that vision or pop-up design problems with copy or photos, the design will change and that will cause anger and frustration.
    • If the copy desk is also reading all the copy in addition to layout, local knowledge things will be off and that will cause reader frustration.*

    Okay, I keed, when has a newspaper cared about a pissed off reader?
  5. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Well-Known Member

    That question was asked four separate times in the meeting I attended and the answer was never clear. Eventually, the person answering the questions said "It'll be more efficient." But how? What's efficient about 27 people trying to put out five different papers at one time?

    As for deadlines, they allegedly will remain the same. They said our printing schedules worked out perfectly that we won't have to change anything. I fail to believe this, just like I fail to believe it's going to save money.

    And Brian is right, Monroe is a horrible choice. When you have a new building in Lafayette and Shreveport, why choose Monroe? Why choose a place nobody in the state wants to live? None of it makes any sense.

    Frankly, it sounds like just about every other plan Gannett has implemented over the years. It sounds like they didn't really think things out and figure out the logistics beforehand and they'll just go with the flow and take things as they come.
  6. WS

    WS Member

    You choose Monroe because you know people will quit rather than move there.
  7. MrBSquared

    MrBSquared Member

    Ugh ... Fun-roe ... well, better than being unemployed. Barely.
  8. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    What are the odds of that?? Probably 10000-1.
    Ain't gonna work.
    Good luck to those who actually have to try to put out a paper(s) in this environment. My god will this be a clusterfuck disaster! Gannett is such a forward thinking organization. Piece of shit company.
  9. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Active Member

    What you describe is a cost-cutting consolidation. They say no one is losing their jobs, but in doing so they are also betting about 25% or so will quit rather than make the move. That's how it works.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    The (almost) funny thing would be if too many people quit.
  11. thegrifter

    thegrifter Member

    Sick of these bullshit moves by newspapers. If you don't want people to work there, fire them. Making them quit is such a chickenshit move, cause we all know most people won't be able to uproot their families for a Gannett salary.
  12. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    Homeless under a bridge vs. employed in Monroe?

    Depends on the bridge.
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