Newspaper publisher Gannett said Monday that it plans to move the printing of its 11 Wisconsin newspapers, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to one of its printing plants in central Illinois, a move that fits with the company’s strategy of becoming a digital news organization.
As consumers steadily shift to receiving news via smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, newspaper companies around the world find themselves with too much printing capacity and Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S., is no exception.
When the GateHouse newspaper chain merged with Gannett in 2019, it yielded a company with a number of printing facilities serving regions within trucking distance. The consolidation of production operations has become common within the newspaper industry as an increasing number of consumers get their news and advertising through digital platforms.
The printing and packaging of all Wisconsin newspapers produced at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel facility in West Milwaukee will be moved to the printing plant at the Peoria Journal Star in Illinois, Gannett said.
In additional to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gannett’s newspapers in Wisconsin include the Green Bay Press Gazette, Appleton Post Crescent, Wausau Daily Herald, Oshkosh Northwestern, Fond du Lac Reporter, Sheboygan Press, Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, Stevens Point Journal, Wisconsin Rapids Tribune and Marshfield News Herald.
The last issues to be printed in West Milwaukee will be on May 15, for May 16 editions.
The Journal Sentinel printing plant, 4101 W. Burnham St., employs about 180 people full-time and part-time, and will continue to operate its regular scheduled shifts through May 15.
“As our business becomes increasingly digital and subscription-led, we are making challenging, but strategic decisions to ensure the future of local journalism,” said Bernie Szachara, President – Gannett U.S. Publishing Operations.
“We deeply appreciate the many years of service our knowledgeable, skilled staff has dedicated to our Milwaukee facility. Our commitment is to continue providing readers with quality content that matters most to them, and to connect our valued advertising partners with the consumers they want to reach.”
The Burnham Street facility became fully operational in 2003.
The change in printing location is not expected to impact newspaper home delivery times, said Rob Schafman, director of distribution for the Journal Sentinel.
The print newspaper will continue to offer the same range and depth of coverage of news and feature stories, including in-depth enterprise and investigative reporting, said George Stanley, editor of the Journal Sentinel and the USA TODAY Wisconsin network.
“Print subscribers also have complete access to everything we do digitally, including breaking news alerts, email newsletters, videos and interactive data reporting, like our election night vote tracking,” Stanley said.
More: How to register as a digital subscriber
Similarly, the shift in print production should have little impact on advertisers, who use print and digital platforms to connect with the communities they serve, said Andy Fisher, Vice President of Local Advertising for the Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin Region.
“This will not have an impact on the value we provide to our advertisers throughout our footprint,” Fisher said. “We will continue to provide excellent service and drive value our advertisers expect through our content platforms.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gannett will close the West Milwaukee printing plant