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The New York Daily News plans to outsource its printing operations to the North Jersey Media Group, which prints the Bergen Record, the Herald News of Passaic County and the Daily Record of Morris County.
A source with knowledge, who called the move “a disaster,” said the shift could result in laying off more than 200 employees. A union spokesperson representing the affected employees did not immediately return requests for comment.
The Daily News’ print operations would potentially be moving from its 15-year-old, state-of-the-art Liberty View facility in Jersey City to an older, non-unionized plant in Woodland Park, New Jersey. It is unclear how much the 102-year-old paper could save in the move.
Sources close to the situation say union reps are still hoping to keep the facility open by proposing cost cuts that would help it hit certain financial targets, but it is unclear if that is even an option. If not, both sides will negotiate over compensation packages for employees.
The newspaper, which was sold by Tribune Publishing in early 2021 to Alden Global Capital, a New York-based hedge fund, as part of the firm’s acquisition of Tribune Publishing, has been under the gun to severely slash costs.
In a Tuesday memo to staffers, Daily News general manager Michael Gates said “prior public company ownership” had planned to discontinue the print edition, but “current ownership is committed to maintaining the print newspaper and that now requires us to find efficiencies that have become common in the industry by identifying a partner to handle production.”
He said the paper plans to begin negotiations with unions representing impacted workers, and that he hopes a “final agreement” is struck “before March 12.”
Gates added that shifting production of the newspaper would help fuel continued investment in the company’s digital growth.
“The New York Daily News is proposing this step to help offset the ongoing print revenue declines exacerbated by the pandemic,” Gates said.
Gates noted that the change would result in no change to what readers or advertisers see in the daily newspaper, adding: “Our home and retail newspaper delivery also will not be disrupted by the contemplated printing change.”
A rep for the Daily News did not comment.
Under Alden, the Daily News replaced its editor-in-chief Robert York with Andrew Julien, who served as top editor for the paper’s sibling the Hartford Courant.
The Daily News and the Courant also enacted buyouts, allowing the publications to reduce the headcount of the already lean mastheads. At the time, the NewsGuild, the union that represents journalists at both publications, said just eight Daily News staffers and five Courant employees took the buyouts.
The move is an increasingly common cost savings measure among print publications, which face declining print readership. Similar moves have been made recently by newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Tampa Bay Times and the Kansas City Star.
In 2020, News Corp., owner of the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, shifted its printing operations from its South Bronx facility to a New York Times plant in College Point, Queens, which is unionized.
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