About eight years ago, the Tribune Publishing newspaper chain found a way to eliminate duplication in design and copy editing of national, world and sports copy. It was more efficient, and it made it easier to reduce the number of copy editors and designers.
Tribune created “modules,” which are blocks of copy, that any newspaper in its chain could use. Individual newspapers simply placed the modules, which were prepared at The Chicago Tribune by a team it called the Mod Squad, onto a page and built copy specific to that newspaper around that.
That newspaper chain, now known as Tronc Inc., does fewer modules than years ago, and the Mod Squad, much like the TV show of the same name, is no more. But The McClatchy Company, which owns The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, is fully embracing the concept.
It’s no wonder considering the three publishing hubs serve all of its papers. Modules help manage the huge workloads. Durham and Raleigh are two of 11 newspapers that McClatchy News Desk East in Charlotte produces.
Some packages are modules that are already laid out and the designed block is simply placed onto the page. Other times, national editors edit stories that are flowed into spaces that vary by newspaper.
The scoreboard pages for Raleigh and Durham each are divided into a “NATIONAL SCOREBOARD” and a “LOCAL SCOREBOARD.” The national scoreboard module that appears in The N&O and The Herald-Sun may be shaped differently but have identical content since their deadlines are close together (the last pages have to be out at 7:45 p.m. for Durham and 8 p.m. for Raleigh). Other newspapers with later deadlines at the Charlotte hub, such as the Charlotte Observer, obviously have more updated scores and standings.
McClatchy News Desk Central, which is at the Kansas City Star, prepares these modules. In addition, national and world briefs packages, roundups and notes packages for various sports also are prepared for use by multiple newspapers.
Since McClatchy’s design templates allow a one-column headline to be used for multiple-column packages, the roundups, briefs and notes packages can easily work for any layout. Many times, you’ll see the identical package in the Durham and Raleigh papers but one is cut shorter because of a smaller news hole.
Both newspapers run identical half-page Major League Baseball modules each day.
Unless there are day games (as with the Monday module above), the MLB modules are mostly news and notes, with standings on the right two columns. That same module appears in McClatchy’s Sacramento Bee, but is more complete and actually includes night games because of the time difference.
If you’re looking for box scores in either newspaper’s print edition, the only ones you’ll get are for Durham Bulls or Carolina Mudcats games, and those usually are two days old.
If you long for the days of picking up a newspaper and perusing box scores, there is a way to do that online. Digital subscribers can see pages prepared at the Bee that include expanded standings and all the scores and box scores from the previous day here with McClatchy’s Sports Extra. It also includes the other major sports. Those are national agate pages that appear toward the end of the Bee’s print editions.
N&O publisher’s role expands in restructuring
Sara Glines, who became publisher of The N&O in September and, in addition, became The Herald-Sun’s publisher in December, has been promoted to one of four McClatchy regional publisher positions in corporate restructuring that has led to the departures of several publishers.
Glines oversees the Carolinas Region, which includes The N&O, The Herald-Sun, The Charlotte Observer, The Herald of Rock Hill, S.C., The State of Columbia, S.C., The Island Packet of Hilton Head, S.C., The Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette and The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, S.C. McClatchy News Desk East in Charlotte produces all of those newspapers.
The other regional publishers are Alexandra Villoch (Miami Herald publisher, East Region), Tony Berg (The Kansas City Star publisher, Midwest Region) and Gary Wortel (new publisher of The Sacramento Bee, West Region).
All four regional publishers report to Mark Zieman, McClatchy’s vice president of operations.
On Monday, the departures (some reported as retirements) of the McClatchy publishers at The Sun News, The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., the Bradenton (Fla.) Herald, The Wichita Eagle, The Bellingham (Wash.) Herald and The Tri-City Herald of Kennewick, Wash., were announced.
Access to N&O’s community newspapers changes
The N&O’s community papers are now only accessible through its e-edition for most subscribers. The newspapers, which aren’t produced at the Charlotte hub, will still be printed but only delivered to non-subscribers and subscribers in some zones in Cary, Chapel Hill, southwest Wake County and Smithfield.
“Nearly all of the content in our 10 community papers already has been published in the print News & Observer, the print Herald-Sun or at our websites,” John Drescher, the executive editor of The N&O, said via email. “For that reason, we are not inserting our community papers into all home-delivered copies of The News & Observer or The Herald-Sun.”
The N&O discontinued sports pages in the community newspapers in November, eliminated the sports editor positions and laid off two sports editors and a reporter.
“As more and more readers get their news from newsobserver.com and heraldsun.com, we will continue to review our print community papers and how we can best serve local readers,” Drescher said.
The offices for two of those community newspapers — the Chapel Hill News and The Durham News — relocated last month to the Herald-Sun’s offices at the BB&T building near Northgate in Durham.
It’s a return of sorts for its three staff members who each used to work for The Herald-Sun when its offices were on Pickett Road: Mark Schultz, the editor of both community newspapers, Chapel Hill reporter Tammy Grubb and Durham reporter Virginia Bridges.
Herald-Sun’s Durham reporter laid off
There figured to be some layoffs because of jobs duplicated at The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer. Fortunately, only one Durham staffer in Durham has been laid off to date.
Rachael Riley came to The Herald-Sun in September from the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald to cover Durham and city government but was laid off in March, with Bridges then handling that beat for both newspapers.
Riley didn’t go without a job for long. The Daily Dispatch of Henderson, a Paxton Media Group publication, hired her as a reporter earlier this month. How quick was the transition? Her last Herald-Sun story was March 26 and her first Dispatch story published April 5.
The Herald-Sun hired Anna Johnson from the Times-News of Burlington as its Orange County reporter in December just before McClatchy acquired the Durham newspaper. With Grubb on that beat now for the Raleigh and Durham newspapers, Johnson was reassigned and is The Herald-Sun’s online producer.
Herald-Sun fills photographer opening
Casey Toth, a 2016 UNC graduate in the photojournalism program, filled The Herald-Sun’s photographer position that opened when Kaitlin McKeown left for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk in February.
North State Journal misses SND honor
The North State Journal, the statewide twice-a-week newspaper, was one of 12 finalists for the Society of News Design’s award as the World’s Best-Designed Newspaper.
At the convention in Charlotte last week, however, the award went to two newspapers: Die Zeit of Hamburg, Germany, and Het Parool of Amsterdam, Netherlands.