Friday, July 8, 2011

Tribune Company announces that it is moving page design for the Hardford Courant to Chicago

This is an incredibly stupid idea: the Tribune Company today said that it is eliminating jobs at the Hartford Courant and moving page design to Chicago. The jobs cuts are bad enough and inevitable when you are being run by a company that has no new ideas, but the decision to move page design is absurd.

"Collectively, the changes we've implemented will reduce expenses and position CT1 Media to capitalize on marketplace opportunities," The Courant reported its publisher Rich Graziano as stating in an e-mail to employees Thursday.

Let me tell you why this is a bad idea:

I served as a publisher at McGraw-Hill in the nineties and was fortunate, at the time I was brought on board, to have a large and highly skilled production staff. Fully trained, this staff not only was able to produce our daily trade newspaper, but had plenty time left over to train me in desktop publishing (thank you).

But I recognized immediately that the production staff was as much a resource to the success of the San Francisco unit as the editorial or sales staff. As a result we soon launched a monthly magazine and custom publishing ventures.

But then McGraw-Hill brought in a new division president who love this book, and neither my unit nor the division as a whole ever recovered. The decision was made to move page design out of San Francisco, which meant depending on corporate services for production of the magazine and the various custom publishing projects we had sold.

To make a long story short I soon left the company to publish another magazine that competed directly against McGraw-Hill, the magazine was shuttered and all the custom publishing contracts were eventually lost.

Just as bad, the San Francisco unit had had its legs cut off, its ability to create new products, to respond to the market.

The writing is truly on the wall for The Hartford Courant.