By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Worcester paper abandons printing presses, too

It’s become a flood. The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester has announced it’s shutting down most of its printing operations, costing 64 employees their jobs. The T&G will be printed at the Boston Globe. Both papers are owned by the New York Times Co.

The announcement comes within days of the Boston Herald’s deal with the Globe, and with the New Haven Register’s decision to shut down its presses and shift its printing operations to the Hartford Courant.

Total job loss: 222. Absolutely necessary. And a tragedy for the workers, their families and the local economy.

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  1. Deadlines are often hurt by these deals, for obvious reasons: when the printing press is an hour away instead of inside your building, and when it has to schedule your paper among other customers, the desk will have to send out the pages sooner.

    Late meetings, late scores, late crimes – they tend to disappear from the newspaper when you don’t own your own press.

  2. Jerry Ackerman

    It’s gonna be a zoo in the pressroom and mailroom at Morrissey Boulevard, trying to keep all those editions straight and getting them on to the right trucks.

  3. Larry Weil

    So, is The Globe now going to be printing three papers with the same staffing level they had for one paper? There’s a cost to that too, and it’s borne by the overworked employees.

  4. Jerry Ackerman

    Larry, they’re printing far fewer Globes these days (roughly half the number of copies than 10 years ago). The number of pages has shrunk as well. I suspect there’s plenty of slack waiting to be filled. They also have to squeeze the Patriot Ledger and the Brockton Enterprise into this schedule, plus a short run of the NY Post and probably a few others. Good thing they still have the plant in Millbury. I suppose the Billerica plant has been stripped by now.

  5. Regarding the issue of print deadlines, in the case of the New Haven transition, they actually aren’t being affected at all.

    I have seen press room consolidations where they’ve been severely affected, though, and was surprised at how little overall impact they had on print circulation or complaints, particularly in the area of late sports scores for MLB, NBA, NFL. It proved to me that sports fans truly have made a wholesale transition to getting the box score/game story from the web or ESPN vs. the print edition of their local daily.

  6. I’ve answered the phone in our newsroom when people call asking why we don’t have anything about last night’s aldermen’s meeting or more than a brief from a high school b-ball game – so our deadline rollback of roughly an hour has definitely been noticed by some readers.

    I’ve also found that “Sorry, but you can see the whole story on our Web site” is not usually considered a satisfactory answer.

    • Dan Kennedy

      You know what, @Dave? Telling people they can read it online is a perfectly good answer. Sounds to me like you’re dealing with people who just enjoy whining.

  7. The people who call are often older, long-time readers and aren’t interested in going online. This stuff used to be in the paper, so it should still be in the paper, darnit!

    I’ve found that if I take time to discuss the economy, changes in the industry, staff cutbacks and the like, putting it within the context of challenges facing all businesses, roughly half of them are very sympathetic and understanding. It’s satisfying and hopefully keeps a subscriber, but boy does that extra 10 minutes per call wreak havoc with my work day.

  8. Mike Malone

    As for local coverage being hurt by moved up deadlines precipitated by outsourced printing I’m not sure how much that will affect the Telegram. Over the last several years they have already pretty much gutted much of the local meeting coverage, or if they cover something it doesn’t show up until days later. It seems much of the Telegram content are non time sensitive features written way ahead of time and plugged into the paper as needed.

  9. L.K. Collins

    Gutted local coverage? Hasn’t that been the complaint for several years now?

    Certainly it has been a topic more than once here in Dan’s blog.

    I’m sympathetic with Mike’s situation, but the discussion is not about the decline of newspapers, but how fast and how far.

    The employees, of course, are the ones that take it on the chin for the decline, but the digital news has sort-of made that inevitable.

    The sharp ones adjust and find a niche in the new world.

  10. Laurence Kranich

    The sobering statistic is that, even when they’re printing the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Telegram & Gazette, the Patriot Ledger, and the Brockton Enterprise, the Globe will still be printing fewer newspaper copies than they did in 1990 when it they were just printing the Globe.

  11. Of course, it’s not just the printing that takes time – burning plates, switching plates, balancing color, etc., eats up minutes, and there’s a lot more of that when printing different newspapers than when printing different editions of one paper.

    If your paper is the one at the end of the run, cumulative delays can really nail the time that bundles get to your depots and carriers.

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