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St. Cloud Times: designed in Des Moines?

Gannett Co.’s consolidation means the St. Cloud paper could be designed and laid out 275 miles away.
By David Brauer

Updated with confirming info, 11:45 a.m. Thursday

While the wave of newspaper bankruptcies have abated, cost-cutting pressures haven’t. Among chains, one of the tactics seen in recent years is moving page layout and design away from individual papers to centralized “design hubs” in distant cities.

That’s apparently what’s happening to St. Cloud Times, which will be laid out and designed in Des Moines, according to a Times source. While executive editor John Bodette did not return a call for comment yesterday, the Des Moines Register notes that newsroom will now design papers in “South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana.”

(Update: Charles Apple confirms the Times-Des Moines connection, and says the move may be a good one. Also, at least one commenter speculates that copy editing will be affected.)

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Gannett Co. owns the St. Cloud and Des Moines papers; Gannett is also setting up design centers in Louisville, Nashville, New Jersey and Phoenix.

The plan means some St. Cloud jobs will move to Des Moines; the Register says consolidation will “bring” 35 to 60 in the next two years. The source I spoke to in St. Cloud didn’t know how many people would be affected there, but said the current functions are carried out by perhaps a half-dozen people. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that “Gannett will first hire from within the company as jobs move to the new production centers.”

Times editors, reporters and photographers will still work out of St. Cloud. I don’t really know how the end product is affected by having newsgatherers in one city and designers in another; I know I always appreciated having everyone in talking/eyeballing distance when I edited a paper.

Still, efficiency is the order of the day, and Gannett claims the move will preserve local newsgathering jobs — or, as the memo puts it, “to focus on — and protect — the creation of unique local content.” While we don’t yet know exactly what design folks will be sent across the border, this presumes some don’t add a uniquely local element by actually being local.

[Hat tip: Gannett Blog.]