Sweeping changes continue at GateHouse Media Inc., the company that owns newspapers in Springfield, Peoria, Rockford, Galesburg and other cities and towns across Illinois. Many of those papers will soon be laid out in one of two national design centers, and copy editors across Illinois will lose their jobs.
At The State Journal-Register in Springfield, word came in a newsroom meeting Tuesday afternoon. According to multiple sources, papers with greater than 5,000 circulation, like The State Journal-Register and The Register Mail in Galesburg, will be laid out near Chicago. Papers with fewer than 5,000 circulation and those published weekly will be laid out near Boston.
Springfield workers say they were told ten positions will be cut this summer.
Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, State Journal-Register publisher Walt Lafferty declined to comment.
One paper that will not be affected by the announcement is the Journal Star in Peoria.
Columnist Phil Luciano is vice president of the union that covers newsroom employees there. He says copy editors do more than proofread stories and write headlines, and papers will suffer without them.
“The copy desk no longer becomes an editor function,” Luciano says. “It will check for commas — maybe — but mostly what it’s doing is sizing it up and slapping it on a page. You’re going to lose a lot of that stewardship of a story.”
Luciano says GateHouse told the Peoria union that it would not ask for outsourcing in ongoing contract negotiations. But the proposed contract would only last for 18 months.
Other newspaper chains, like Gannett and Scripps, took similar steps years ago. And GateHouse has already centralized other functions: an outside company handles circulation for the Rockford Register-Star, and The State Journal-Register is printed in Peoria.
GateHouse stock closed up on Tuesday, rising by a penny to seven cents a share.