Friday, February 15, 2013

Gazette continues its resurgence among criticism

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 5:45 PM

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For decades, a good portion of the white and brick building at 30 S. Prospect St. has been taken up by printing presses churning out Colorado Springs' daily newspaper every 24 hours. The current machinery was put in place in 1978, but as of April 15 it will be shut down and all printing will be done in the capital by the Denver Post, the Gazette announced on Tuesday.

“The technology in Denver is state-of-the-art and will advance our printing capabilities considerably,” said publisher Dan Steever. “Top newspapers in the country are already being printed there, so it’s a proven facility.”

And of course, considering the Independent is also printed by the Post, that's true.

But nonetheless the change, implemented by a desire to increase the quality of pages and the amount of color used in the newspaper, came with some criticism from commenters. One person wrote, "I bet most of the readers would have chosen to have 'less color' to keep the jobs here in Colorado Springs." In an interview with the Indy, Steever said he could appreciate the frustration, but beyond the fact that he said roughly 80 percent of newspapers don't print their own product, he thinks it's still the better move for a few reasons.

"What they may not understand is that when all is said and done, and April 15 rolls around, we will have almost the same amount of employees here as we did the day I got here in September," he says. "And that’s because the areas we’re hiring in are different areas: newsroom and circulation and IT and finance and sales and marketing and a lot of digital.

"We’ve [also] hired a new head of marketing; we’ve just hired four more people into finance — those people in finance, by the way, are jobs that were not located in the state of Colorado when Freedom [Communications] owned the paper.”

And not only is the staff ballooning, outside of the 51 jobs lost in the press room, but the redesigned paper has added 32 pages of additional content per week; new daily sections; increased coverage of prep sports and the military; and new columns, like columnist Barry Noreen's rebirth as "The Voice of the Reader," as one mailed subscription offer reads. And all that's just going to continue, including a second, more thorough redesign of the paper and website that will happen in the third quarter of 2013.

“There’s other things we’re working on: more, what you might call, enterprise reporting," Steever says. "You’ve seen some of that lately: two-, and three-, and four-part pieces; the opening up of the Incline is an example of that. So we’re going to be doing a lot more of that real in-depth, enterprise-type reporting.

“But special content around some of the bigger topics that people are interested in — finances, health, food, those kinds of things — yeah, we’re gonna continue to try to build content in all those areas.”

The G's story also mentioned a potential move from Prospect Street; Steever declined to comment on any possible buyers of either the equipment or the building, or the financials behind the cessation of printing. "At the end of the day it was not driven by numbers, I can tell you that."

He did, however, weigh in on something the story's commenters were also clamoring for: the head of editorial-page editor Wayne Laugesen.

"Wayne does a good job — we get far more responses on what Wayne writes that are favorable," Steever says. "But on the other hand, this is not regarding Wayne, but we wanna listen to what the readers are saying, and we’re gonna try to have some balance in the op-ed area. But as far as Wayne goes, Wayne has a lot of supporters and he’s good at what he does."

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