The Philly Inquirer will outsource its printing to Gannett

Philadelphia City Hall. Photo (cc) 2016 by Dan Kennedy.

It’s one thing for the chain-owned Hartford Courant to outsource its printing. It’s quite another for an independent major metro like The Philadelphia Inquirer to do so.

The Inquirer, recently shorn of its online comments, is owned by a well-funded nonprofit organization, the Lenfest Institute, and it continues to be reasonably well-staffed. Nevertheless, Kristen Hare of Poynter Online reports that the Inquirer will sell off its suburban printing plant and outsource its production to a Gannett-owned facility instead.

The print edition of many newspapers has become such a small part of their operations that printing simply isn’t cost-effective unless they’re able to take on outside customers. No doubt they’re celebrating at Gannett, since the Inquirer deal means less time that their presses will be idle. But when the Inquirer’s shutdown takes place later this year, 500 people will lose their jobs.

You can be sure that Boston Globe owners John and Linda Henry are looking at this move closely. The launch of the Globe’s printing plant in Taunton in mid-2017 was plagued with problems, and after they were fixed the Globe found itself with fewer outside printing jobs than it had expected. With digital far outpacing print, at some point it may make sense simply to sell the Taunton plant and print the Globe elsewhere.

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3 thoughts on “The Philly Inquirer will outsource its printing to Gannett

  1. Steve Ross

    There is a cause-and-effect issue, too. I simply gave up any hope of seeing the physical Globe at my door on the North Shore in the morning. The Globe could not print it in time. Digital was the answer.

    1. Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: I wonder how much of the Globe’s digital growth can be attributed to frustration over problems with print? That and the cost.

  2. Steve Ross

    I’d have to look at the numbers… the Globe is atypical. The print price is high in part because ad revenue is lower than it used to be and in part because getting people used to digital is a good idea. Other issues as well. But Globe could leverage digital far more than it does… will drive time podcasts be in order when drivetime comes back? Will the app get better? Its plant is well suited to serve Providence and even Worcester. Reading your Moguls book a few years back, I just kept thinking about the options all those folks get by actually having a good product, even if they adjust slower than they might. And they are still around and doing ok.

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