March 16, 2022

Gannett has taken the trend of outsourced print production to new lengths, announcing Monday that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its 10 other Wisconsin dailies will be printed at the Peoria Journal Star beginning in May.

Peoria is 220 miles and three-and-a-half hours from Milwaukee. Other papers in the Wisconsin group, including the Green Bay Press-Gazette, are even further north.

The move will result in the shuttering of the Journal Sentinel’s printing plant and the loss of 180 jobs.

The change will also push back deadlines, eliminating next-day coverage of night or early evening sports — no small thing in Milwaukee where the Bucks are NBA champions, the Packers are perennial contenders and the Brewers are having a run of good seasons. The Journal Sentinel already publishes a digital supplement on nights after the Packers games and can be expected to turn print sports content to analysis and features while doing spot game coverage on its website or e-replica edition.

Since Gannett and GateHouse merged in late 2019, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher with 250 dailies has consolidated printing at its biggest plants while closing many others. Gannett also contracts at those hubs with papers outside its network who want out of doing their own printing, for instance producing McClatchy’s Kansas City Star in Des Moines.

The Journal Sentinel article on the shift quoted Bernie Szachara, president of Gannett U.S. Publishing Operations, explaining, “As our business becomes increasingly digital and subscription-led, we are making challenging, but strategic decisions to ensure the future of local journalism.”

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.