Friday, January 8, 2021

Tampa Bay Times To Outsource Printing

Times Publishing Co. announced this week it will outsource printing of its newspapers starting in March and will close its own production facility in St. Petersburg.

The company has signed a three-year agreement with Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper chain, to print the Tampa Bay Times at its operations center in Lakeland. That plant already produces some of Gannett’s own newspapers, plus the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Times Publishing issued a required 60-day notice to about 90 full-time and 60 part-time workers who will lose their jobs when the transition is complete. Gannett intends to expand its own operations team in Lakeland and has said some jobs could go to Times employees.

The decision does not affect the Times’ independent ownership or other parts of the newspaper. Times journalists, who still make up the largest newsroom in Florida, will report the news. Sales staff will sell and schedule advertising. But instead of transmitting final page designs to its own print facility, the Times will send pages to Lakeland.

Gannett will print and truck the newspapers to Times distribution centers around Tampa Bay, where the papers will be delivered by Times staff and contractors.

In response to steep advertising declines brought on by the coronavirus, the Times reduced its print editions to Sunday and Wednesday last April. The company said the move to Lakeland makes sense even if business recovers enough to add another day of printing.

“The news business was already shifting toward digital delivery, and the pandemic put that change into overdrive,” said Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash. “This is a hard decision, and we feel it keenly. But it helps position the Times for the future as a vibrant news company in a media landscape that is increasingly digital.”

On Wednesday, the Times also said full-time employees whose jobs are not affected will take a temporary pay cut of 10 percent for up to six months, while the transition takes place. Tash is reducing his own salary by 20 percent.

But consolidation of printing by newspapers at fewer plants has become a trend in an industry seeking expense reductions and greater efficiency. In just the past year, the Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Hartford Courant, San Antonio Express-News and Kansas City Star have moved their printing operations or announced plans to do so.

No comments:

Post a Comment