Gannett partner MediaNews on copy editors

Why does every newspaper need them? That was the rhetorical question MediaNews Group President Joseph Lodovic asked Bloomberg News — before immediately providing the answer: “In this day and age, I think copy-editing can be done centrally for several newspapers.”

Lodovic’s assertion — and I totally disagree with him — is noteworthy because privately-owned MediaNews under CEO William Dean Singleton (left) has co-owned with Gannett partnerships publishing newspapers in California, Texas, New Mexico, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Lodovic proposes centralizing copy editing at nearby newspapers as a cost-saver. Gannett is taking similar steps, although I don’t know whether they involve copy editors. For sure, they include centralizing some circulation and other customer support work at a handful of call centers — a move senior executives highlighted Wednesday during the quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

But others have pointed to the folly of centralizing newsroom functions — most notably, John Bowman, a former editor of the MediaNews-owned San Mateo County Times south of San Francisco. “The copy editors — who check stories for errors and style, put headlines on them and position them in the paper — have been moved out of the newsroom where they could consult easily with reporters and editors about stories,” Grade the News reported this past summer on what happened at the Times.

“To cut costs, they’ve been transferred some 30 miles away to Pleasanton, to a central copy-editing desk, and their numbers have been reduced. ‘Copy desks are so thinly staffed that they are making an incredible number of errors,’ says Mr. Bowman. ‘These errors are in the headlines and [photo] cutlines so they are glaring.'”

In a Grade the News sidebar, a MediaNews editor disputes Bowman’s contentions. Whatever the outcome, MediaNews bears watching. It’s adept at cutting costs in ways I’ve never seen taken by Gannett, lessons I hope GCI doesn’t adopt.

[Photo: Bloomberg]

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4 Responses to “Gannett partner MediaNews on copy editors”

  1. Mary Specht Says:

    “…before immediately providing the answer: “In this day and age, I think copy-editing can be done centrally for several newspapers.””

    I don’t get it…is there a grammatical error in his quote? Perhaps I’m *further* proof of why we need copy editors?

  2. Editor Says:

    As far as I can tell, that was his quote, word for word. Point well made, Mary!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I’m considering a features copy editor job at a mid-size MNG paper — what should I expect?

    I’ve also been in touch with Gannett, but I’ve heard questionable things about both MNG and Gannett; which would you recommend working for?

  4. Jim Hopkins Says:

    As with any job, it depends on who your immediate supervisor will be. That said, read all the items on this blog labeled MediaNews — then make a decision.

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