Two announcements from GateHouse Media draw attention to the newest trend used by media corporations to cut costs and consolidate production. On Jan. 18 the Illinois Times, an online newspaper covering Springfield, Ill., reported about staff reductions at the Springfield Journal-Register. (story) To cut costs, the story reported the Journal-Register would lay off up to a dozen copy editors and page designers over the course of the summer, and that the Journal-Register would send its copy to a central publishing desk outside of Springfield.
On Feb. 8 the Rockford Register Star announced that Rockford would hire 60 or more staff to work the new central desk to be housed in Rockford. All GateHouse Media newspapers with circulations more than 5,000 will be sent to the hub in Rockford. Newspapers with circulations of less than 5,000 will be sent to a hub in Framingham, Mass.
This affects more than just Springfield and Rockford. On Jan. 26, the Sturgis (Mich.) Journal announced it would shutter its press operations, lay off 15 people and send its production to another site.
Copydesks traditionally have done more than correct errors of spelling, grammar and style. Copy editors also provide knowledge that a reporter may not have and act as a libel firewall. Nevertheless, copydesk consolidation is a newspaper trend, and GateHouse unfortunately is following in the steps of Gannett and Scripps.