The Caller-Times, Reporter-News, Standard-Times, Times Record News: 19

Posted 03.28.09 • 2009 layoffs, Paper Cuts

Corpus Christi, Texas; Abilene, Texas; San Angelo, Texas; and Wichita Falls, Texas
Owner: E.W. Scripps Co.
Effective: March 26, 2009

Design and copy editing for 4 Texas papers have been consolidated at the Caller-Times in Corpus Christi.
Source: The Caller-Times via Paper Cuts tip

Caller-Times to become regional editing, design site

19 employees laid off; The Business Journal of Corpus Christi and The Business Times of the Rio Grande Valley to close

By Staff reports
Thursday, March 26, 2009

CORPUS CHRISTI — The Caller-Times announced a reorganization Thursday that will make it the regional copy editing and page design center for four Texas newspapers. The reorganization included layoffs for 19 Caller-Times employees.

Also, The Business Journal of Corpus Christi and The Business Times of the Rio Grande Valley will close at the end of the month, with layoffs for seven people.

The regional center will house the copy editing and design for the Caller-Times, the Wichita Falls Times-Record News, the Abilene Reporter-News and the San Angelo Standard Times, all owned by E.W. Scripps Co. The copy editing and page design desk center is responsible for the final editing, headlines and visual appearance of the newspapers. The center will be staffed by members from all four newspapers.

“This consolidated desk creates a regional hub here in Corpus Christi,” President and Publisher Patrick Birmingham said. “As we look to find efficient ways to produce the newspaper, this was an idea we felt would help us achieve efficiencies and give us another way to continue putting as many resources as possible into generating local news content.”

The Caller-Times made several changes to the paper earlier this year, but doesn’t plan any more major content changes in the near future.

“Our watchdog role remains vital, as does generating local content readers can’t get anywhere else online or in print,” Vice President and Editor Shane Fitzgerald said. “With those goals in mind, such ideas as streamlining the copy editing and design in one central place make a lot of sense.”

Birmingham noted that the national economic downturn has made it tough on all media, as television and radio stations also have made significant changes and cuts in adjusting to lower advertising revenue. KRIS-TV Channel 6’s parent company announced mandatory unpaid furloughs for employees this week, and Clear Channel, which owns six radio stations in Corpus Christi, reported a $4 billion loss in 2008.

The Caller-Times’ 8 percent reduction in workforce, which included three people in the newsroom, is part of a reorganization of several departments within the newspaper.

“The rumors of our demise are greatly exaggerated,” Birmingham said. “We were profitable in January. We were profitable in February. And we are on course to exceed our profit target for March. That said, our numbers are down from last year.

“These changes, along with the others we made by reducing our newsprint costs and other expenses earlier this year are designed to help us improve our bottom line for 2009.”

The Caller-Times also will simplify and in some cases reduce advertising rate structures, including private party ads for garage sales and cars. The paper also is hiring local contract labor to deliver the paper outside the core distribution areas of Corpus Christi and is adjusting its sales force to better focus on online sales opportunities.

“The auto and real estate categories are down significantly right now, so we need to move resources toward online,” Birmingham said. “We’re the only media in the market, for instance, that can sell on Yahoo and target people in the Corpus Christi area.”

The paper also is expected to report an increase in circulation for the sixth consecutive six-month reporting period in its daily circulation at the end of the month.

So far in 2009, Caller.com is averaging 417,517 monthly unique visitors and 5.3 million monthly page views. Compared with other radio and television media outlets, Caller.com attracts more than 78 percent of the local media page views and more than 80 percent of the online visits to local media Web sites, according to Hitwise, an independent online audience tracking company.

“Despite what some local TV stations may claim, Caller.com is clearly the No. 1 media Web site and advertisers are recognizing the value of advertising on the area’s leading news and information Web site,” Birmingham said.

1 comment so far.

  1. Bridget Knight says:

    There will be a total of 17 fewer jobs at the combined copy desk than there were at the four copy desks. The 47 people who held those jobs were all invited to “apply” for the 30 jobs in Corpus Christi. Not everyone, of course, was interested in moving hundreds of miles. As of the deadline for applications, about 31 had applied.