Cox Media Merges Editing, Production Duties For Its Major Daily Newspapers

With advertising and circulation revenue continuing to spiral downward in most cases, newspaper publishers continue to look for ways to cut costs. That appear to be on the mind of Cox Media Group, which publishes six dailies, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as it consolidates editing and production operations for four of its papers, the AJC reports (via ACES).

In other words, there will essentially be one newsroom for support functions covering four daily newspapers, including the Austin American Statesman, the Dayton Daily News, Palm (NYSE: HPQ) Beach Post, in addition to the AJC. It’s not clear how many layoffs there will be as a result of the consolidation. (The AJC noted that the newspaper has about 2,546 people working for it in total, including workers at the printing plant.)

Most backup operations will be performed in Atlanta, such as the wire editing desk, while copy editing and page design jobs for the printed newspapers will be shared in Dayton and West Palm Beach.

For CMG, a division Cox Enterprises, which also owns 15 local broadcast stations and 86 radio station, the feeling is that the internet makes it easy to handle these functions remotely.

Writing on the ACES (American Copy Editors Society), Charles *Apple* criticizes the move, charges that copy editors not familiar with a paper’s local area can miss certain nuances of coverage. That will lead to more mistakes and perhaps lead to a certain distance between newspapers and local readers.

While most commenters tend to show little tolerance for typos and mistakes, the stakes tend to be even higher for print, given the obvious permanence of ink and paper compared to online, where fixes can be made almost immediately. But given the economics of newspapers these days — after 20 consecutive quarters of ad revenue decline, while the Newspaper Association of America has also noted that traffic to newspaper websites is up 20 percent over the past year — papers are already getting more blog-like, for better or worse, so such moves like CMG’s, only seem inevitable.