More job losses for The Roanoke Times, my first daily newspaper gig back in the 1960s.
In August, the paper will move its printing operations to Lynchburg, where it will be printed by the News & Advance press. Print advertising inserts of sale items will be handled by The Richmond Times Dispatch. Both papers, like the Times and The Floyd Press, are owned by BH Media, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett.
The German Koenig & Bauer Comet press in Lynchburg is newer and has more color printing capability than the Heidelberg Mainstream 80 press that the Times installed at its operation in 2003.
“The production facility in Roanoke will close as a result of these moves,” Times publisher Terry Jamerson said in a news release. “We thank Roanoke’s production team for its many years of dedicated service.”
The 37 people who lose their full-time jobs in the move probably don’t feel very thankful. Another 16 also face loss of their part-time employment.
Job loss is, unfortunately, is a way of life in the newspaper business, especially in a culture where information comes from social media gossip, partisan “news” web sites and showbiz-oriented broadcast news operations.
Ten other employees of the Times lost their jobs earlier this year in staff reductions that affected all parts of the BH Media operations. Had a chance to discuss that recently at lunch in Roanoke with Times columnist and friend Dan Casey.
Some print news operators, however, are fighting against the tide. The New York Times and The Washington Post are hiring, not firing, reporters, editors and photographers. Part of the boom there comes from the challenges of covering former “reality show” host and current President Donald Trump.
Another part comes from concentrating on changes in the news industry itself with use of the Internet and streaming media.
Like most everything else around us in this fast-paced, ever-evolving world, the business of covering the news and getting needed information out to readers must adapt.
That sad reality probably doesn’t matter to the 50+ men and women losing their jobs by the latest change at The Roanoke Times. The press release announcing the shift of printing operations to Lynchburg those put out of work will receive “career placement assistance.”
That placement assistance may not help find another job in the printing business. The Roanoke Times former employees join 140 other workers affected by the closing of LSC Communications, which announced last week it was shutting down its book-printing operations in Salem in July.
LSC Communications used to be part of the huge RR Donnelley & Sons commercial printing company that produced phone books (especially the “yellow pages”), maps and many other parts of life in America.
Now, a large part of what Donnelley produced is available online and is delivered to people on their home computer screens, their laptops or their smartphones.
The company, still considered the largest commercial printing operation in the world, used to employ more than 100,000 people. The employee count now is 42,000 and continues to go down.
The printed page may not be a way of life for anyone down the line. The Christian Science Monitor stopped printing its worldwide newspaper in 2oo8, shifting totally to an Internet-based product.
Some other dailies have cut back on the days they publish on paper and try to point readers to the world wide web.
Some newspapers, like The New York Times and The Washington Post, thrive on the Web. Others continue to lose readership.
Changes continue. Success for all, however, remains elusive.