The Oregonian has announced that it will outsource some design and copy desk jobs to New Orleans.
That's where its sister publication, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, hosts a shared copy desk and production staff for five newspapers in the Advance Publications chain.
The move is the latest in a series of shifts at The O as Advance executes a web-first strategy: The paper reduced its print delivery from seven to four days a week, mandated steep web quotas for reporters, and sold its printing press (which will soon become an apartment tower).
For those readers outside the rapidly-shrinking print newspaper industry, the copy desk is where stories go for grammatical rehabilitation and gimlet-eyed fact checking after first being edited for content and structure.
The copy desk is the firewall that prevents reporters from embarrassing themselves and at most publications, is staffed by a team of extraordinarily knowledgeable human encyclopedias. You don't want to play Trivial Pursuit against a copy editor.
Here's the announcement Oregonian publisher Steve Moss sent to staff yesterday:
After careful consideration, we’ve decided to outsource Oregonian Media Group’s Pub Hub work to the Southeast Media Group’s Print Lab in New Orleans, effective with the Oct. 4 editions of The Oregonian. Unfortunately, this means that our Pub Hub will close after we publish the Monday, Oct. 3 editions of the newspaper.
Our Pub Hub employees will be encouraged to apply for open positions located in Portland as well as positions in New Orleans. Those who are leaving will be eligible for severance benefits and outplacement assistance.
The Print Lab concept began earlier this year in Alabama and New Orleans. The Southeast Media Group’s Print Lab currently provides services to five newspapers in Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans; The Oregonian will be added to that list.
The Print Lab currently has open positions for Embedded Editors located in our newsroom, as well as editing and design positions in New Orleans. Positions will also be created for the Enterprise Design Team (which works remotely). The 12 open positions to be filled will join a Southeast Media Group Print Lab that numbers close to 50 people.
Outsourcing our pub hub functions to the Southeast Media Group Print Lab will allow us:
· To take advantage of shared content and design
· To share ideas, best practices, and coaching
· To improve our efficiencies of scale and workflow
If you have any questions, please contact either Mark Katches, or Jennifer Crown.
Oregonian editor Mark Katches did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The move replicates consolidation efforts that other chains such as Gannett and McClatchy have already put into place.
It is unclear how many jobs will be cut in the Oregonian newsroom—it's likely somewhere between five and 10.
People familiar with the changes say some designers and copy editors will remain in Portland and key decisions about what goes on the Oregonian's front page and how and where local stories will be presented in the paper will continue to be made here.