Coming soon….the Milwaukee USA Journal Today Sentinel.
Typically a newspaper’s publisher and editor are replaced to facilitate all the change. “They like to have their own people in place, who are more familiar with corporate culture. Plus it’s a chance for people within the company to advance,” Hopkins notes.
“In recent years the company has gotten more top-down,” he adds. Yikes.
All national and international news for its papers is supplied by USA Today. The local paper and its local coverage is simply wrapped around USA Today. It not only saves money on any national reporters a newspaper might have once had, but saves money by not needing editorial staff to put the national/international section together.
Not many editors — in the traditional sense — are used. Writers for a particular beat may make story decisions (within Gannett guidelines) and a “writing coach” or “content coach” may edit stories by various reporters. In an attempt to appeal to younger readers, newspapers may have a “beverage reporter” (covering beer and the bar scene) and fashion reporter, while the state capitol desk might get just one reporter.
To get a sense of how much the Journal Sentinel’s staff might be cut, I compared its current editorial staff (editors, writers, photo, design and online people) of 117 people with Gannett papers in two mid-sized cities. The Louisville Courier Journal, in a metro area of 1.3 million, has just 63 total staff covering these same functions. The Indianapolis Star, in a metro area of 1.76 million people, has 89 staff covering these functions. Given Milwaukee’s metro population of 1.55 million, you’d expect the staffing to fall somewhere between the other two cities, meaning the Journal Sentinel loses in the neighborhood of 35-40 staff.
But considering that Gannett also owns 11 other newspapers in Wisconsin (more than it owns in any state but Ohio), there may be other reductions in overlap it achieves between the Milwaukee paper and the 11 smaller publications.
Odds are the people let go will be the most veteran, highest-paid staff, the ones most knowledgable about the community they are covering.