Hearst outsources copy editing, page design
This stunning memo from San Antonio reveals that the Hearst Corp. is already outsourcing copy editing and page design work to Houston.
And editors from all its newspapers were summoned to discuss the “coming consolidation project.”
In San Antonio, the travel section is already being put together in Houston and the food section will follow in January.
Yes, both cities are in Texas, but they are 199 miles apart. It would be be like having Albany stories edited by staffers at Newsday on Long Island.
Folks, we can’t say it plainer: The Company wants to take your jobs and outsource them. This memo makes it clear why the Times Union’s computer system in editorial and e-mail system is now out of Houston. Read the memo and it will all make sense.
If I were a competitor of the San Antonio paper (or, if it happens here, of the Albany paper), I would have an absolute field day with an advertising campaign pointing out that the competition is no longer a truly “local” newspaper.
And I would tell all the local advertisers that the large majority of the people putting out an allegedly “local” paper don’t spend one red cent in their stores.
Here we go. The Dissolving of the “Local Community” paper. Out sourcing the work of the paper that is done by the workers that live there is just the first step. Then it will be done taken even further. Its a shame what is happening to the one of the last great information institutions across America. This is where news and a sense of community becomes about shallow entertainment and money, not people first.
I’m glad we have a union. It’s a shame that Hearst thinks it can survive by letting the quality of its newspapers slip.
I’m saddened by Hearst’s decision to take a vital part of San Antonio’s editing and design process out of the community. These employees are the last line of defense against libel and the kinds of basic errors that damage a paper’s credibility.
The American Copy Editors Society says it best:
“The copy editor is, in effect, a publication’s quality control expert. The copy editor is the guardian of the publication’s credibility, and credibility is one of a newspaper’s most powerful selling points. Note that word — selling. If credibility evaporates, so will sales. If readers can’t believe the news they get from you, why should they buy your product?”
I’m grateful we have a union. Keep fighting for us.
We need to put out a product we have faith in, and I don’t trust copy editors from a daily paper in another state to understand what’s important to a local story. Hyper-local, huh?
Tim, I don’t care how long you have to fight this. But I will support all your efforts to prevent it from happening here. I am going to send an email to our new leader right now and tell him much the same thing.
Congratulations on your new position. Thank you for this long and thoughtful email, and I agree that it’s important to start a conversation about how we must all work together to keep our business afloat.
But I’ll cut to the chase: It’s a terrible, tragic, morale-killing, money-losing idea to outsource copy editing and page design. The quality will suffer because the pages done for other markets in Houston will be less important to the designers than their own, truly local pages. And copy editors need to know the difference between, say, “Utica” and “Ithaca.” They need to know that a lawyer mentioned in the fifth paragraph of a story was the same guy who , for example, was nearly disbarred 10 years ago for something related to the news of the day.
Quality will suffer. Morale will suffer, and talented people will find something else to do. Readers will suffer, and then write us off. Advertisers will follow. Please tell me this matters.
The Times Union
From: Swartz, Steven
Sent: Wed 12/17/2008 11:29 AM
To: Newspaper Division
Subject: Beginning a conversation
I think this is going to be the new slogan in San Antonio:
“Your Hyperlocal Paper, Produced in Part By People Who Can’t Spell or Pronounce the Name of Your Community.”
The company needs to think long and hard before throwing away anyone who makes the Times Union the leading source for news and advertising in the Capital Region.
I am a content editor and I win my job every day. I add to the local news product in big ways and small ways though my extensive knowledge of the Capital Region. My co-workers in every job title contribute to the Times Union in similiar ways.
We are working hard to make this operation a success every minute of every day.
I support the Guild team.
My first month at the paper I was saved by a copy editor who knew that the town of Berne has an “e” at the end of it. To me, that’s pretty valuable. If we’re going to keep readers’ trust, (or maybe just avoid their scorn) we need multiple, smart and local lines of defense.