State Journal-Register journalists successfully challenge early deadlines for print edition

Across  the country, newspapers are moving deadlines from late evening to late afternoon as part of the ongoing consolidation of printing, page design and copy-editing functions.

Such move-ups prevent journalists from getting night news (meetings, sports events, crime, fires) in the printed newspaper. That speeds the decline of print circulation, which accelerates the newspaper’s loss of revenue, which leads to more newsroom cuts, which further damages the product and drives down circulation some more . . . you get the idea.

The reporters at the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., expressed their concern about this with a public protest.

As a result, the ridiculous 4 p.m. copy deadline was moved back to 7 p.m. That’s far from ideal, but it does help the SJ-R get more news into the print edition.

Big companies like the new Gannett (old Gannett merged with GateHouse) tout their digital transformation, but they still need print revenue to survive. Yet the destructive managerial decisions keep coming, all in the name of cost-cutting.

At the Rockford Register Star the deadline move-up came after Gannett closed its printing operation and moved it to Wisconsin. Gannett did the same thing at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, moving the printing to Columbia. Lee Enterprises did that to the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, moving the printing to St. Louis.

The SJ-R lost its printing operation to Peoria years ago, but continued working unde regular deadlines until the recent move-up. This is not a printing issue, it seems, but an overburdening of Gannett’s centralized design hubs due to layoffs and consolidations.

The bottom line is the same: the erosion of quality journalism at a time when the country needs it most.