Sun-Sentinel To Print Palm Beach Post

In a move that until recently would have seemed unthinkable, The Palm Beach Post will be printed by the Sun-Sentinel, its long-time rival, for the next decade.

The arrangement, rumored during the last week and announced today, means that 300 more Post employees will lose their jobs, according to a company-wide memo issued by Post Publisher Doug Franlkin and General Manager Charles Geraldi.

Citing escalating production costs, an "aging and inefficient" production plant, and the ongoing economic slump, Franklin and Geraldi wrote that the outsourcing would lead to savings that the Post would "invest in producing great journalism and content" and a "more effective multimedia advertising sales force." They wrote that printing costs were putting "tremendous pressure on our bottom line" and that the move follows "a growing trend of plant consolidations throughout the newspaper industry.

Franklin and Geraldi expressed regret, however, for the lost jobs, which come on top of more than 300 buyout/layoffs in July.

"Sadly, this move will cost almost 300 jobs for our employees in Production, Building Services and Transportation," wrote Franklin and Geraldi. "This was an extremely difficult and painful decision, as it affects the lives of so many loyal, dedicated and hard-working members of the PBNI family."

The move also comes on the heels of an agreement between the two newspapers and the Miami Herald to share Internet content. The Sentinel will hire 40 additional production employees to handle its new distribution duties. Here's the complete memo, which was sent out today and posted on Pulp:

Dear Colleague,

We have just come from a series of meetings with our employees in the Production, Building Services and Transportation departments where we announced that Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc. has entered into a 10-year printing agreement with the Sun-Sentinel Company of Fort Lauderdale to print The Palm Beach Post, the Palm Beach Daily News and La Palma. This project will start immediately, and we expect to complete the transition in January 2009.

As you may be aware, we have been evaluating options for our aging and inefficient production plant for several years. We concluded that an agreement with the Sun-Sentinel is the best decision for our company, given the economic environment and the advertising marketplace.

Sadly, this move will cost almost 300 jobs for our employees in Production, Building Services and Transportation. This was an extremely difficult and painful decision, as it affects the lives of so many loyal, dedicated and hard-working members of the PBNI family. We will do all that we can to assist our Production, Building Services and Transportation employees, and each will receive a special Stay-to-the-End Bonus. Roughly 40 positions will be available at the Sun-Sentinel as opportunities for some of our employees. And many of our employees will remain with our company into early 2009, during the three-month transition.

It’s no secret that our industry is undergoing dramatic changes and that the national economy is in a deep and continuing slump. Over the past two years, we will have lost almost one-third of our revenue base, and there is no sign of a let-up on the horizon. The extremely high cost of a printing operation put tremendous pressure on our bottom line.

Our current equipment, facilities and capabilities have become increasingly inefficient as the costs of materials and newsprint continued to escalate, so outsourcing printing and packaging is necessary. Our decision reflects a growing trend of plant consolidations throughout the newspaper industry.

Our agreement with the Sun-Sentinel will almost immediately relieve a great deal of our costs and operating burden, which will allow us to invest in producing great journalism and content, plus building a more effective multimedia advertising sales force. Be assured that while we are leaving the manufacturing business, we are not abandoning our printed newspapers, which deliver the largest audiences in our market, more than any other media.

In no way does this move imply that we will not continue to compete vigorously for readers and advertisers in our market. To a great degree, we expect that this partnership will go unnoticed by our readers and advertisers.

There are many advantages of being printed by the Sun-Sentinel Co. Our advertisers will have increased opportunities for more color, sectioning flexibility, gatefolds and poly-wrapped Sunday insert packages. The Sun-Sentinel’s presses will allow us to print more efficiently, with less labor and fewer press runs. And with our existing distribution partnership now coupled with printing and transportation, both companies will realize greater economies of scale.

As we make these changes, we remain committed and optimistic about our future as a multimedia provider in this market. We will continue to communicate regularly and openly with you. We ask for your continued dedication and great work, along with your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Doug Franklin
Publisher

Charles Gerardi
General Manager

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