In Iowa City move, what’s the downside?

Consolidation ‘R’ Us! The Iowa City Press-Citizen will be printed on the Des Moines Register‘s presses, a reader notes — eliminating 11 full-time and 13 part-time jobs at the smaller paper, effective June 2.

The Press-Citizen reported the news in a story last week, quoting General Manager Susan Patterson Plank saying: “Some of the cost savings will be invested locally and some will go to ‘protecting for the future.'” (Huh? Isn’t the proverbial rainy day already here?)

Here’s the puzzling part: Des Moines is 114 miles west of Iowa City, Google Maps says. I imagine that distance hasn’t changed since Gannett bought the two papers in 1977 (Iowa City) and 1985 (Des Moines). I suspect GCI would have combined printing long ago in order to save money — if there wasn’t a downside. Patterson Plant says customers aren’t expected to see any changes: “The things that make us local, we will continue to invest in.”

I’m skeptical. What about, say, earlier newsroom deadlines — so fewer late sports scores in the Press-Citizen — to accomodate that roughly two-hour truck journey back to Iowa City? Use this link to e-mail the answer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: this morning’s Register; I couldn’t find the Press-Citizen when I searched the Newseum‘s database]

10 Responses to “In Iowa City move, what’s the downside?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hush! No one is supposed to know! Not advertisers especially! HOT OFF THE PRESS!!!

    The Des Moines Register is having a TOP SECRET conversion at the production facility, where they are getting ready in May to switch to a smaller paper, in size from a 48 ROP size to a 44 ROP size, and Tab papers will actually be larger 11×11. This is really paper thin and narrow! Advertisers won’t like the fact that they will pay the same price for an ad size which actually shrinks in size!!! Not to mention that they won’t be produced by local graphic artists but artist in India! Right now, Iowa City has their own graphic artists but I can see that won’t last once the conversion takes place. Maybe they were told too?
    That is why June 2nd, Iowa City can be printed at The Des Moines Register, and why The Des Moines Register is is printing Iowa City Press Citizen for savings of thousands upon thousands.

    I guess they want more profits too since they are giving buyouts company wide.
    Shhhh! It’s a secret.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    The Gannett Blog has become the typical out of touch newspaper site. Companies across the globe are making much bigger job cuts,outsourcing and consolidation than the Gannett company. Wake up and smell the 21st century. What started out as a blog that had some insight and balance about the good and bad of running a newspaper company has turned into a sad state of out of touch complaining. If you don’t like working for Gannett then leave. But please stop all of this silly chatter on the smallest of changes. Anyone read about the massive job cuts at citigroup? We all would love to turn the clock back to 1980 but it’s 2008 so let’s get up to speed with today’s challenges!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Basically this is a ripple effect. Gannett owns so many small papers in the USA, and once it has trial papers such as The Des Moines Register was “selected” to have artists in India, then it spreads to all papers. Iowa City is not the only paper within The Des Moines Register’s reach, nor is it the only plant doing this conversion. This will happen in any state where consolidation is possible.
    Don’t think this is peanuts, this is the PLAN! I wonder how many people will be laid off through out the Gannett, in pieces, which makes smaller headlines, and does not ring alarms.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Okay let’s put a little reality check to this. Wisconsin’s been doing this kind of stuff for year’s with four production facilities serving ten dailies and many many non-dailies. Only two papers are actually in the same building as where their products are printed. Also it’s the trend within the industry as a whole to outsource your production processes. All they are doing in Iowa is making the best use of their production dollars. And sometimes, we’ve come to find, that having the latest breaking sports scores and one can get many other places is not the end of the world.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Sure this is beginning to be standard. Most newspapers are outsourcing in India, presses are less likely to be local, papers are converting to smaller sizes. 44 inches for a newspaper is the smallest yet for a daily paper. Advertisers get the shaft for paying the same rate for smaller ads. Readers get the shaft for less news in the paper, because the news writers are being bought out or fired.

    Don’t you see? Gannett wants to be an online business, so they are reducing everything that don’t make money, even if it means papers are closed. Then they only have to produce online publications.

    They don’t care about newspapers anymore. The success of online publishing is so exciting for them, they are cutting bait. Cutting anything that doesn’t produce revenue means you outsource everything and the kitchen sink, except their internet connection and online specialists. Don’t you see why having reporters that can report and do videos were so important? Thats what is in the future. Don’t have to pay much in rent, salaries, presses, etc.

    So do them a favor, and drop subscriptions.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    When I was a new hire at The Des Moines Register I was required to visit the new production facility that is clear across town from the newspaper office (downtown). During the orientation, it was stated that the day the facility opened that it was already obsolete because production outstripped the hours available for operating the fancy new presses.

    Was that an idle boast? Has production dropped off so there is time and space for printing Iowa City without adding presses? Or has Gannett found some magic that permits them to get more from an already (now long) obsolete production department?

  7. Anonymous Says:

    All tripping over dollars to save dimes. When you can’t strategically move forward you pinch pennies. And save yourself on the way to the fire-sale.

    The Journal Register Company in Yardley, PA has done the same thing with centralized production.
    But when you have no advertising base, it makes it real easy to paginate, transmit, and to print.

    Advertisers will have one more grudge, to add to their many, as to move dollars away from newspapers.

    Congratulations on yet another stupid move. Rockford is lucky to be out of Gannett. Book it.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I suspect that Mary Stier may have finally gotten a sense of conscience…or pissed that Sue got kicked upstairs and not herself. The same thing happened when Dubow got the nod and not Watson…and Watson took the bow.

    Since Mary came from Iowa City, I’m sure she was not happy with the news about consolidation. Having to face those hometown folks.

    Oh, by the way…Watson, hometown boy of Rockford…got his tribute when they sold off to Gatehouse. Too much snow to drive that distance from Appleton.

    The old guard is gone…beware being given the title of Chairman.
    And with no writeup to boot.

    Frank Vega is all smiles.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Deadlines will be earlier, especially if snow is forecast.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    What's the Downside has great and real questions. "Invest the savings locally", SPP said. She has laid off groups of people 3 more times since she made that statement – – no wait, she just does what she was told to do. If it weren't so tragic, the funny thing is that the actual press consolidation did not save money. The Des Moines Register charges the PC MORE for printing than actual Press-Citizen costs prior to press consolidation. PC is no longer able to manage tight deadlines to report LOCAL stories.

    Remember the Dick (as in Bob Dickey) speech: "we must remain nimble"? Of course, that's impossible with no local control over projects, deadlines for advertising & news and costs charged to PC.

    In addition, every time you want to go to the bathroom, you must now request authorization from DM that takes many unanswered email, phone calls and texts. The FINANCE VP in DM actually analyzes all requests – -she has a set system for approval.

    1st she emails you a minimum of 15 times with one question per email:
    What route will you take to the bathroom?
    How many steps will it take?
    Time per step?
    How long will this route take compared to other routes?
    Please send me 5 comparisons on different routes.
    Why does route 1 take so much more of your time to get to the bathroom than route 5?
    Why aren't all routes within 3.0% distance of one another?
    Is there a 6th route that makes more sense.
    And lastly, please follow up with me (FINANCE VP) after you have gone to the bathroom and let me know actual number of steps, cost of the shoes you wore and how many more years you project you will be able to wear those shoes if you always take the same route… go to the bathroom.

    By the time you get approval to go to the bathroom & are told which route to take ….. well… can finish this sentence even if you aren't a former Gannett employee at the Press-Citizen.


    The IC Press-Citizen part time GM does not live or actually work in IC. She does not make any expense decisions or any other decisions except to foward on threatening email from higher ups that if you go over expense budget, you will face certain death.

    Most local IC business people now call the PC the Des Moines Press-Citizen.

    I guess that about sums it up.

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