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› Philadelphia newspapers to combine staff
  • Published on November 5, 2015

Philadelphia Media Network, the publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com announced their intention to combine the staff of the three publications which have been operating separately. As part of the consolidation, the publisher also indicated that layoffs will be occurring across the organization. Unlike some other media organizations that have consolidated newsroom staffs, this announcement indicates company-wide consolidation will be occurring across all three media properties. The publisher, Terrance C.Z. Egger “painted a dire picture of declining advertising revenue” according to an Inquirer story covering their own consolidation. The Philadelphia newspapers have been through several owner groups and reorganizations in the past, but this is the first initiative that seeks to consolidate the staffs of the publications. Ironically the first announcement of consolidation at the Philadelphia newspapers came while publishers from around the region had gathered at the Media Future Summit at the Wharton School, on the other side of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Inquirer is a broadsheet, or larger newspaper and provides more traditional news coverage for both Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, while the Daily News has focused more on a city audience in a tabloid format. Both the Inquirer and Daily News are published daily and produced using InDesign. Published reports place the circulation of the Daily News at approximately 40,000 subscribers daily, making it much smaller than its sibling paper, the Inquirer. Despite its smaller circulation, it reaches a different audience and demographic.

Employment impact of Philadelphia newspaper consolidation

If the Philadelphia papers consolidate publications, there will be a reduced need for staff across the board. Fewer reporter will be used to cover stories as the publication may shift to more reports from wire services, and fewer publications or reduced pages will require fewer layout artists that have received InDesign training. The publisher has not announced their plans, but with the pending consolidation of the staffs and recent similar consolidation at other publications makes these actions likely.

Layout artists can repurpose their Adobe InDesign skills into marketing design roles, or may elect to learn how to use content managed websites such as WordPress or take other Creative Cloud classes to transition their design skills to web and interactive design roles. Reporters with a focus on niche industries will find opportunities at industry-specific publications, including websites that provide news coverage of specific topics and industries, along with corporate communications and marketing communications roles that utilize writing and communications skills. The increase in advocacy journalism and advertorial news underwritten and often published on corporate websites also provides for opportunities for writers to continue their practice. Many emerging roles also integrate video into their reporting, requiring reporters to also use tools such as Final Cut or Premiere Pro to edit videos that accompany published news stories.

Industry trends in newspaper employment

The announcement at the Philadelphia newspapers comes on the heels of several recent developments from several other newspaper publishers, showing a continuing downward employment trend at newspapers over the past several years. Last week the Orange County Register filed for bankruptcy, after a failed attempt to revive print distribution by starting several local print papers in the surrounding area. At the same time the publisher of the LA Times and Chicago Tribune has announced efforts to reduce their staffing levels through buyouts. Reports indicate that they are likely to see about a 15% reduction from their current staffing levels, which have been reduced through previous layouts and buyout initiatives.

Not all recent news coming from publications has been bad, as yesterday the owner of the Boston Globe announced a start of a new publication, Stat, with a staff of more than 50 at the time of its launch. If the new publication is successful, other news publishers may follow their lead and look for opportunities to launch publications that cover specific topics or vertical markets.

About the author

is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the creator and editor of the Digital Classroom book series. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft. He delivers workshops relating to digital marketing, web analytics, SEO, and SEM. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.