Newspaper Printing Fallout Continues as NC Papers Are Outsourced, Philadelphia-Area Plant Is Sold
The fallout in the newspaper publishing market continues, with newspapers facing dwindling display and classified advertising, diminishing subscriptions to their print editions, and a generational reader preference for online news consumption — typically for free.
The latest newspaper printing casualties are the The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., and The Herald-Sun in nearby Durham, N.C. Those McClatchy owned papers are being outsourced, effective in April, to another printing operation in Fayetteville, N.C., resulting in layoffs for the 48 full-time and 33 part-time print production workers employed there.
Demand for online news has diminished the press runs for the two newspapers, Robyn Tomlin, president and editor, told employees in an email, wrote reporter Josh Shaffer in the Feb. 2nd edition of The News & Observer.
“We know that as more readers find their news online, demand for print is declining,” Tomlin indicated. “After thoughtful analysis and deliberation, we concluded that moving our production and inserting operations in Garner to trusted outside vendors nearby is the best choice for the future of The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun."
The same day as the newspaper outsourcing announcement in North Carolina, The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed it had found a buyer for its sprawling, 674,000-sq.-ft. Schuylkill River printing plant located on a 45-acre tract of land in Upper Merion Township, Pa. It was acquired for $37 million by developer Bryan O'Neill, founder of the Recovery Centers of America substance abuse chain.
As I reported earlier, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, now owned by the nonprofit Lenfest Institute, will be outsourced to a unionized Gannett printing facility in nearby Cherry Hill, N.J. About 500 of the 550 employees who work at the unionized Schuylkill River printing plant will be laid off, which amounts to nearly half of The Inquirer's total workforce.
The layoffs will become effective when the newspaper presses shut down and the work at the nearly 30-year-old facility is shifted to the Cherry Hill location by the end of March.
The Schuylkill printing facility cost about $300 million when it was built amidst much fanfare in 1992 after being printed since 1925 on North Broad Street in Philadelphia, with $160 million of that going toward the purchase and installation of Goss Colorliner web offset presses. Within the 462,000 sq.-ft. of manufacturing space, only two of the nine press lines were currently being used to print the two newspapers.