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Consolidation of editorial copy editing and production functions at geographically disperse newspapers continued last week as Media General Inc. said it would establish production centers in Richmond, Va., and Tampa, Fla., for its three metropolitan dailies, which include the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Tampa Tribune and North Carolina's Winston-Salem Journal.

The company said the Richmond and Tampa groups would be led by a new managing editor, yet to be hired, who would supervise both operations. Each group would "have primary responsibility for particular sections and pages for all three metro newspapers," the company said in a release.

Media General said that it anticipates that along with editorial production consolidation efforts at some of its smaller papers -- it says more than half its 23 papers "are either part of or transitioning to a consolidated editing and design operation" -- it expects to save more than $1 million in efficiencies starting in 2011.

"The company intends to use a portion of the savings to focus on intensified local news coverage," Media General said in the release.

While many publishers -- most notably MediaNews Group Inc. of Denver -- had centralized copy editing and page design at a regional level throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, only in recent months have publishers begun trying the process on a interstate basis. Tribune Co. last month said it would begin creating pages for its Virginia paper, the Daily Press of Newport News, out of its flagship Chicago Tribune, while in January The E.W. Scripps Co. said it would move production of pages for its California and Washington state papers to Corpus Christi, Texas.

In other daily paper consolidation news, the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group said last week it was consolidating some newsroom operations of its Herald-Journal of Spartanburg, S.C., with its Times-News of Hendersonville, N.C. The combination elminated four jobs in Hendersonville, the company said.

Ultimately, while page design and production is something that probably works OK in a consolidated environment (whether intra- or inter-state), I suspect that after a couple of whopper copy-editing mistakes, the green-visor and arm-garter crowd will be brought back to local operations.
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Date:Apr 12, 2010
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