Does this mean the print edition will have glitches too?*

Following a comment posted to my previous post about the wide-ranging effects of the Times’ layoffs, I found out from another friend that the print operations are being consolidated. This memo was forwarded me this afternoon, with the note, “the words ‘sinking’ and ‘ship’ are coming to mind for some reason”:

TO: Times Employees
FROM: Mark Kurtich, Senior Vice President, Operations
SUBJECT: Production Consolidation

Today we’re announcing that we’re consolidating production at three of our most modern and efficient facilities in downtown Los Angeles, Costa Mesa and Irwindale and closing the Chatsworth plant.

The consolidation will not affect publication of any of our five editions, including the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County editions, or the products and services offered to readers and advertisers.

We deeply regret the impact the consolidation will have on employees, but the reality is that we’ve invested $500 million to modernize and build new facilities and expand color capacity since the Chatsworth plant became operational in 1983.

Here are the reasons why we’re able to consolidate these facilities:

  • The more modern plants in downtown Los Angeles, Costa Mesa and Irwindale are fully capable of handling our current circulation levels as well as meeting the future needs of Times readers and advertisers.
  • We completed a $405 million press modernization project in 1992 that included the construction of the new downtown Los Angeles Olympic facility and the addition of new color presses at the Costa Mesa facility.
  • This year we completed a $46 million color expansion project that increased color ad capacity by 33 percent, giving us more color capacity than any newspaper in Southern California.
  • In 2002 we built a $50 million state-of-the-art pre-print production, inserting and distribution center in Irwindale.

The closing of the Chatsworth plant will result in the elimination of approximately 110 positions from across the newspaper’s production facilities. We will seek to accomplish as many of the reductions as possible through a voluntary separation package. Non-Operations staff based at the Chatsworth plant will be relocated, and we’re evaluating a number of relocation options. It is expected that the transition to the downtown Los Angeles and Costa Mesa facilities will be completed in the first quarter of 2006.

With 11 presses at the downtown Los Angeles and Costa Mesa plants coupled with our production facilities in Irwindale, The Times will continue to have one of the largest investments in newspaper production facilities in the country.

Man. Merry Christmas, everyone. Didn’t LA Observed just report on most of the IT staff getting laid off, too? Why are they getting rid of the people who contribute to the distribution of the paper? Aren’t those folks the unacknowledged backbone of the paper?

Update: Another memo was forwarded to me, this one penned by Publisher Jeff Johnson. Turns out, the total number of cut positions L.A. Times wide is 300:

As a result, the total number of jobs impacted will be about 300. This number represents a combination of both voluntary and involuntary separations, with the hope that the majority will be voluntary. I recognize these very difficult actions have been felt throughout the organization, and I deeply appreciate the professionalism of all employees during this time.

During this period of tumultuous change in the media environment, now, more than ever, it’s important to make meaningful investments in The Times and have absolute focus on our top strategies going into 2006. Highlights include:

  • A renewed focus on deepening our connection with readers, advertisers and communities of Southern California, including investing more in regional coverage with key hires in Editorial, as well as significantly expanding geographically targeted sales areas.
  • A heightened commitment to our online operations, with a goal to become yet more complementary to our print businesses and ultimately indispensable site destinations.
  • Growing our portfolio of developing media businesses to reach new audiences and provide new solutions for advertisers.

Results of other actions recently implemented are already beginning to show tremendous progress. In our core print business, we’re seeing signs of solid improvement in home delivery circulation–those copies that matter most to our advertisers. Last month, Sunday home-delivery increased 45,000 over last year and weekday is up over 38,000. Individually paid copies will continue to be our highest priority next year, and we plan to promote this success as well.

Looking to online, in just the first four months since the redesign of latimes.com, we have already witnessed a 50% increase in traffic. Further, our new companion entertainment website, TheEnvelope.com, is also off to a terrific start and is just the beginning of great developments ahead of us online and also in the field of entertainment.

We continue to publish compelling stories that readers can find only in The Times. Our recent conservators investigative series and Steve Lopez’s columns chronicling life on Skid Row are only two examples of how our great journalism can make a difference in people’s lives. Looking ahead to the first quarter, we’ll be launching a major redesign of our Sunday magazine and also introducing other significant design changes in our main news section. All of these initiatives and more will underscore our commitment to the great journalism that is the cornerstone of The Times, particularly now as we move toward our 125th anniversary of publication in 2006.

Whoever gets saddled with that 125th anniversary issue, have fun. I remember doing the anniversary issue for the News-Press, and I must have done at least 40 hours of overtime for that issue.

2 thoughts on “Does this mean the print edition will have glitches too?*

  1. Well, I have been wondering about the Chatsworth plant since that employee was nearly sucked into the printing press last month. Apparently a lot of the safety gates that turn certain moving objects off when someone enters dangerous areas weren’t working properly.

    I was stunned to learn that print run was down only 15 minutes when someone was carted away by LA Fire…and not completely shut down by an OSHA investigation.

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