McClatchy to produce more papers from Charlotte hub

The Charlotte publishing hub that produces The News & Observer always has been quite busy. It got busier in August, and the current workload will double in the next few months.

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R.L. Bynum / Raleigh & Co.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte publishing hub that produces The News & Observer always has been quite busy. It got busier in August, and the current workload will double in the next few months.

This is all part of McClatchy Company’s goal to have hubs produce all 28 of its newspapers by sometime in the first quarter of 2017, according to Robin Johnston, the director of the Charlotte hub, called McClatchy News Desk East. Late this summer, McClatchy added a hub at the Kansas City Star to the existing hubs at The Charlotte Observer and at The Sacramento Bee, McClatchy’s flagship newspaper.

“We’re in various states of expansion,” said Johnston, who added that the plan is for none of the hubs to bring in more than 10 newspapers. “It’s still being negotiated. As other newspapers come in, we take on more staff, often from those newspapers.”

When the Charlotte desk became McClatchy’s first hub in 2011, it produced three newspapers: The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. In August, that number rose to five with the addition of The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and The Island Packet of Hilton Head, S.C.

By the end of the year, possibly in November, the number will be seven when it adds The Telegraph of Macon, Ga., and The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer. Among the newspapers that will possibly bring the number to 10 next year are the Beaufort (S.C.) News, The State of Columbia, S.C., and the Centre Daily Times of State College, Pa.

Currently, the Kansas City hub only has brought in work from The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, and copy editors and designers with the Eagle are working remotely from Wichita.

Johnston didn’t want to discuss the number of people on the Charlotte desk, how much it has increased or how much it may increase in the future, saying that the latter is being negotiated. The desk, which endured several layoffs in spring 2015, currently is hiring for at least one position, but at an entry-level salary.

Along with the workload, the workflow also has changed quite a bit since the desk began production for The N&O. At that point, the hub produced all of The N&O’s 10 twice-a-week community newspapers, but that work went back to Raleigh in December 2013, with Triangle editors laying out and editing the pages. In addition, the design of interior news pages, including business and editorial pages, went back to Raleigh at the same time.

The hub designs the sports section, section fronts and pages filled with wire stories.

Every story was copy edited at the Charlotte hub when it began to produce The N&O in 2011. But with the increased workload, editors at the hub now do minimal copy editing.

“Stories are copy edited in the newsroom before they come to our center,” Johnston said. “Any copy editing that happens, happens in the newsroom. Line editing and any copy editing happens in the newsroom. It’s up to them how much copy editing a given story gets. It’s a newsroom decision.”

The hub only concentrates on the print publication and does no online work.

“Once it comes to our center, our center is taking the content that has already been published online, and we are fine-tuning that for print,” she said. “There is editing as part of that. We are reworking headlines for print, we are reworking captions for print. All copy comes to us at the same state, at a point where the newsroom says that it’s publication-ready when it comes to us.”

Johnston said that no stories are copy edited from beginning to end since that already has been done in Raleigh.

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