Stop the presses! Spartanburg closing production facility, to be printed in N.C.

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Thursday, August 17, 2017

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The Spartanburg Herald-Journal is shutting down its production operations effective Sept. 17.

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal is shutting down its production operations effective Sept. 17.


The Spartanburg Herald-Journal is shutting down its production operations effective Sept. 17.

SHJ Publisher Kevin Drake made the announcement Thursday.

"We made the decision to move all of our production over to Gastonia (N.C.), and we did that for several reasons," Drake said. "Printing with our sister paper in Gastonia will improve the quality of our printed products with newer and more advanced presses, better color and paging options and slightly larger paper. We feel that the product we deliver will be significantly improved."

However it will include less late-breaking news including football games, the subscribers’ biggest read on Saturday and Sunday during the fall season.

Herald-Journal Executive Editor Mike Smith said the deadlines to get news into the print edition will shift because of the time it will take to transport the papers from Gastonia. It’s a one-hour trip from the Gastonia Gazette to Spartanburg’s production facility off Bryant Road. “We will have to finish the product earlier so it can be printed in Gastonia and trucked back to Spartanburg,” he said.

That means late news may not make it into the next day’s print edition. “This is especially true for sports,” Smith said. “For instance, the results of many high school football games will not make it into the Saturday newspaper, but all the results will be featured on GoUpstate.com, and full coverage will be found in our Sunday print edition.”

The biggest difference for Clemson and South Carolina football fans may occur in Sunday’s editions. If Clemson or South Carolina games get an 8 p.m. start time or later, and are a TV game, there may be limited or no coverage.

"We are growing our digital brands and continue to invest in those," Drake said. "We understand the importance in doing that."

The Spartanburg copy editing desk was dismantled, with only a skeleton crew, in past years, opting for a clearinghouse editing/layout operation in Austin, Texas.

High school football, the heaviest read season for sports fans, will take a heavy hit for the local paper. When the Greenville News removed its presses and dismissed its production employees, high school football was relegated to fewer pages with large photos and left out game statistics and a large amount of statewide scores.

Spartanburg production employees have been training Gastonia press operators for the past few months to eventually take their jobs. Spartanburg staff who began their career in production has opted to leave instead of training their replacements.

Drake said the decision was also based on financial reasons.

Although about 20 full-time jobs will be affected at the production facility, some jobs will be maintained, he said. Drake said two new full-time positions and between two to four part-time positions will be created to help maintain the building and help distribute papers when they arrive from Gastonia.

Drake said press and mailroom employees in Spartanburg will have the option to apply for new jobs at the Gastonia print facility.

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal is owned by GateHouse Media.






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