Another Boston Massacre is in the works, with the Herald and Globe both planning cost cuts. The Herald is taking the worst of the blows, announcing that it will lay off between 130 and 160 press operators, electricians and other production workers this summer and outsource its printing to presses in two towns, one of which is nearly 90 miles from its headquarters. The current presses are creaking with age and the paper has been exploring alternatives for some time, including possibly contracting with the rival Globe for printing (that didn’t happen).

Herald Publisher Patrick Purcell made a daring bid for expansion in 2001 with the purchase of the suburban newspaper chain Community Newspapers Co., but he sold the business five years later. The Herald is the perennial also-ran to the Globe in Boston and the loss of so many staffers is a major blow. The move to a printing press in faraway Chicopee also can’t help the paper’s ability to provide timely scores to the sports-crazed Boston fans. Neither of the accounts in the Herald or the Globe mentioned the size of the Herald’s total employee base.

The Globe’s news was less dire: it has asked the unions to agree to a 10% wage cut and is threatening to consolidate printing plans, a move that would strike the unionized workers hardest. The union is pissed, but there may be little they can do. The economic climate doesn’t leave them much negotiating room. The Globe has already been through two rounds of layoffs in the last three years.

Orange County Register Tests Offshoring

The Orange County Register will steal a page from the high tech and customer support industries and outsource some copy-editing to India on a trial basis. The one-month experiment is the first of its kind that we’re aware of, although some newspapers have reportedly toyed with covering routine local government meetings remotely in recent months. Officials at Orange County Register Communications made every effort to characterize the project as experimental and non-threatening to US-based employees, but that’s what tech executives said a decade ago when their industry was first considering offshore outsourcing. Forrester Research now estimates that 450,000 tech jobs a year will migrate overseas by 2012.

There’s no reason for the Register not to do this. Most educated Indians already speak English better than most educated Americans, and minor cultural nuances can be dealt with by domestic editors. What surprised us about this deal is that the Register limited it to one month. It will be impossible to assess success in that short a time, so our guess is that the Register either isn’t serious about the idea deal or that, more likely, its management is trying to minimize the negative public relations impact. In our opinion, it’s a bold approach that could quickly be imitated by many others.

Miscellany:

  • When news leaked last week that the Orlando Sentinel was planning a major design overhaul as part of a campaign to change the look and feel of many of the papers in the Tribune Co. portfolio, the Death Watch suggested that readers would care less. Our skepticism has apparently been borne out, as Alan Mutter reports. Less than .05% of Sentinel readers voiced an opinion over the redesign. While eight people felt strongly enough to cancel their subscriptions, the 126 comments voiced in the first couple of days amount to a drop in the bucket. All told, the change is much ado about nothing.
  • Palm Beach Newspapers Inc., owner of The Palm Beach Post, the Palm Beach Daily News, the Florida Pennysaver and La Palma, will cut 300 workers from its 1,350-person payroll. The company said it hopes to achieve the reductions through attrition and buyouts instead of layoffs. However, the likelihood of reducing staff by 22% through those means is low. “We are the last major Florida newspaper to implement staff reductions,” the publisher told the Post. However, the percentage of cuts is by far the largest of any nearby paper.
  • The newspaper industry has always been able to take some consolation in the fact that (presumably older) C-level executives would continue to prefer newspapers to online alternatives. However, a new study by a Forbes and Gartner finds the opposite. The research determined that the percentage of senior executives who choose the Internet over newspapers as their primary source of business information has increased 37% in the last four years, while preference for newspapers and dropped by the same amount. Quoting from the Editor & Publisher account: “Before starting the work day, C-level executives prefer to access the Web rather than read the newspaper. The number of C-level executives who prefer the Internet first thing in the morning has increased 22% since 2004, while those who prefer to read the newspaper first thing in the morning has declined 11% over the same time period. C-level executives consume media on the Web more than any other medium.”
  • Lost in the shuffle of McClatchy’s dramatic cost-cutting moves last week was the news that the Clovis Independent, a weekly serving the Fresno, CA region, would be closed after 103 years. Weeklies tend to rate little attention from big publishers or the media, but they are often tightly woven into the culture of their communities, especially after a century of operation.
  • Danny Sanchez reminds us that newspapers are good for more than just reading. You can use them to remove odors from wet tennis shoes, for example. We never knew that!

Comments

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 26th, 2008 at 8:00 am and is filed under Business News, BusinessModel, Layoffs, Local news, NewMedia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  1. June 26, 2008 @ 2:27 pm



    I’d be surprised if the Boston Herald is still printing in 2010.

    Posted by Newspaper Fan
  2. June 26, 2008 @ 10:26 pm



    As a Boston-area resident, I agree. The paper has been struggling for years, and when the Globe catches a cold, you can assume that the Herald will come down with pneumonia.

    Posted by paulgillin
  3. July 2, 2008 @ 9:12 pm



    The outsourcing of copy editing to India is a horrible idea for newspapers. Your post shows a lack of understanding regarding what copy editors do. They also pick up on errors of fact, such as street names being wrong, that cannot be “caught” by people doing the job remotely.

    Also, good copy editors have knowledge of local politics that is integral to a good newspaper. Not to mention that they know Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, not 1951, which is something some 50-cents-a-day “editor” in India might not know.

    Posted by mike
  4. July 2, 2008 @ 10:30 pm



    Outsourcing isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition and that the Register will figure out what makes sense to outsource and what doesn’t. Copy editors certainly provide value beyond fixing grammar and punctuation, but if it’s possible to skive off the routine work and focus a smaller US-based staff on the areas where they can add value, employers will do that.

    Posted by paulgillin