As media companies make adjustments during the coronavirus pandemic, a slew of relocations, building closures and sales is in the news.
This is nothing new, but the sales have been accelerating of late as staff work at home and the industry faces ongoing pressure. Despite the fact that the trend is not new, the sales are painful for industry participants and watchers, as jobs are lost and the landscape shifts. For some good news, see the Hearst entries at the end of this article.
McClatchy and Gannett are among companies selling property. Gannett has unloaded its BridgeTower Media, W-Systems and SweetIQ units and sold The Inquirer and Mirror (Nantucket, Massachusetts) to 41 North Media. More recent changes:
• The Kansas City Star is departing from its well-known glass building downtown and will relocate, the paper announced Nov. 10. The Star had sold the building to Ambassador Hospitality last year and had been leasing the space. Printing of the paper will be outsourced, the paper said, staring in 2021. The change in printing will result in 68 full-time and 56 part-time Star production staff losing jobs. McClatchy owns the paper.
• The Idaho Statesman is selling its building on Curtis Road to Cedar Creek Wealth, the paper reported Nov. 2. The building function as storage units, the paper says. McClatchy owns the paper.
• McClatchy has also sold a 56,000-square-foot warehouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlotte Business Journal reported. The facility, at 1001 Pressley Road, went for $5.2 million to Piedmont Land Development under the name CrossPoint Property GroupLoSo, according to county real estate records, the business journal said.
• News Corp plans to shift the printing of several of its publications in New York to a different facility in the city.
Under the change, the publications would be printed at The New York Times’ College Point plant in Queens. This plan would result in the closure of the company’s Bronx Print Plant.
The move may mean up to 400 layoffs, according to the New York Post. The change may not happen until early next year, says the Post.
The Bronx plant produces daily print copies of the Wall Street Journal and The Post, along with Barron’s weekly.
News Corp will be examining options for the future of the plant.
• The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, California) building on North Gene Autry Trail is for sale for $7.5 million, the paper reported Oct. 30. The paper produced its final locally printed edition Sept. 21, as it moved its printing to Phoenix. Gannett owns the paper.
• The St. Augustine Record (Florida) building has been sold to an undisclosed private investor for $7.5 million, the paper reported Nov. 10. The 34,4000-square-foot office/warehouse facility at 1 News Place contains the paper well and other tenants, including USPS distribution center, the paper said. Gannett owns the paper.
• The Star Courier (Kewaunee, Illinois) building has been sold to a Johnson Towing and Recovery, based in Manlius, the paper reported Oct. 29.
Gannett owns the paper.
The paper’s staff will operate out of office space inside the building, the paper says.
The Star Courier will go on printing five days a week.
• The Binghamton University Foundation bought a former newspaper printing plant in Johnson City, New York, for $4.5 million, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reported in late September. Gannett, which owns the Press & Sun-Bulletin, moved the printing of that paper, the Ithaca Journal and the Elmira Star-Gazette to Rochester in 2018, the Binghamton paper reported. The building has been unoccupied since then.
Binghamton University has been looking for a spot for a library annex, the anticipated role for the site at 10 Gannett Drive, said the paper.
• The Philadelphia Inquirer is shuttering its Montgomery County printing plant and moving production of its papers to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to an operation owned by Gannett, the paper reported Oct. 9.
Up to 500 people are losing jobs in the move, according to the paper. It’s possible Gannett will hire some of The Inquirer employees, but that’s not guaranteed, according to Lisa Hughes, publisher and chief executive officer of The Inquirer, the paper said.
The cuts represent nearly half of the paper’s staff of 1,073.
The closure of the Schuylkill Printing Plant in Upper Merion Township may come by the end of the year, the paper said. The sale is not yet final, said a memo to staff from Hughes.
The Inquirer is working with a buyer for the 45-acre property. The buyer’s identity was not made public.
The property has a 674,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, opened in 1992.
The change is “is aimed at ensuring the survival of the media company as consumers turn to digital platforms for their news,” said the paper.
• The Hartford Courant announced Oct. 19 that the paper is moving its printing to The Springfield Republican (Massachusetts).
An undisclosed number of jobs will be lost, the paper said.
Tribune Publishing owns the Hartford Courant. Advance Publications owns The Springfield Republican.
• The Salt Lake Tribune announced in late October that it will cease producing a daily print edition and will go to a weekly printed paper delivered through the mail, starting January 2, 2021.
In addition, The Tribune and local rival the Deseret News won’t renew their joint operating agreement, the papers reported. That deal, made in 1952, will end Dec. 31.
Meanwhile in early 2021, the Deseret News will move from daily print delivery to two new printed offerings — a reimagined weekly paper and a new monthly news magazine called Deseret. The Church News will stay a weekly print product. Digital delivery will go on uninterrupted the paper said.
The Deseret News is owned by a subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Tribune said it doesn’t plan to cut its newsroom staff as part of the change.
Salt Lake Tribune Chairman Paul Huntsman bought that paper in 2016 from Alden Global Capital. The paper got IRS approval to be a non-profit last year.
The printing presses in West Valley City that the two papers share will be “mothballed,” according to a source, says The Tribune.
The almost 160 press operators, carriers and other facility staff will lose their jobs.
• Amazon has bought a printing plant in Santa Ana, California, that had been used by the Orange County Register, the paper reported Oct. 29.
The plant will be knocked down and a distribution center will go up in its place, says the paper.
Amazon paid nearly $63.2 million on Oct. 19 to purchase the facility and nearly 17 acres along the 5 Freeway, said Jack Haley with Lee & Associates, a listing agent for the property.
Real estate developer Michael Harrah, who owned the Register property for several years, remains the owner of the well-known orange building where the paper’s newsroom and ad staff worked since the mid-80s, the paper said. That building is up for sale or lease.
The Register newsroom operates out of a building in Anaheim near the 57 freeway south of Angel Stadium. Digital First Media bought the paper in a bankruptcy auction in 2016.
• Wisconsin-based Quad/Graphics has closed four plants and cut 1,100 jobs, the Milwaukee Business Journal reports.
Printing company Quad shuttered plants in Taunton, Massachusetts (in May); and in Charlotte, North Carolina; Portland, Oregon; and Riverside, California (all in February). The drop in employee numbers took place since the start of the year, said the business journal.
The closings were mentioned in Quad’s earnings call on Nov. 4, with the closures helping the company “rightsize our costs to match volumes,” according to Executive Vice President and CFO Dave Honan.
• Lee Enterprises has put the Globe Gazette (Mason City, Iowa) building on the market, the paper reported.
The news staff will operate out of a new spot in or near downtown Mason City after the building is sold, the paper said.
Cerro Gordo property records put the tax value of the Globe Gazette property at $897,450, says the paper.
The paper is printed at the Des Moines Register facility in Des Moines.
• It's not a closure or a sale, but a relocation. Hearst Newspapers announced Nov. 12 that the San Antonio Express-News will be moving one block to the newly refurbished San Antonio Light building in the first quarter of 2021. Additionally, the San Antonio ExpressNews plans to increase newsroom staffing by 10% in 2021.
• Hearst Magazines, meanwhile, announced in September the launch of Premium Print, am initiative that includes a multimilliondollar investment across its portfolio of more than 25 brands to strengthen its position in the marketplace and enhance the quality of its print products.
The additional investment will improve the product of several Hearst Magazines print properties through new, larger formats, higher-quality paper and improved editorial ratios, says Hearst.
Immediate plans, which build on the enhanced paper quality introduced in Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful earlier this year, include adding up to 10% more editorial pages in Good Housekeeping and additional edit pages and larger trim size to the print editions of Harper’s BAZAAR, ELLE and Road & Track, effective with the brands’ 2021 issues.
The company will also launch a new quarterly publication from Delish next year.