The Philadelphia Inquirer is selling its printing plant, an economic move that will cost an estimated 500 staffers their jobs, the newspaper reported.
The newspaper will move production to a New Jersey plant, a union shop owned by Gannett, as it gears up to sell the Schuylkill Printing Plant by year’s end.
At present, the Inquirer is in negotiations to unload the 45-acre property, opened in 1992. The buyer and any financial terms were not disclosed.
“While the sale is not yet final, we recognize how deeply unsettling and distressing this is to employees at the printing plant,” Lisa Hughes, The Inquirer’s publisher-CEO, said in an internal memo Friday to employees.
She added many have been with The Philadelphia Inquirer for decades. Almost all of the
plant staffers — 500 out of 550 — will be laid off. Two newspapers are published there, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, owned by the same parent
company, The Philadelphia Foundation.
Hughes said sale monies will be used, in part, to enlarge severance packages for laid-off employees beyond the requirement of union contracts.
Though the Inquirer will continue to print seven days a week, the current stats — a combined weekday circ of about 91,000 for both pubs — is a far cry from its 1989 heyday, when it claimed more than 1 million Sunday readers. The internet changed newspapers’ fortunes, but digital readership remains sizable. Inquirer.com has about 45,000 paid digital subscribers, while the website’s monthly average for unique users is about 10.5 million.
The Inquirer’s move follows a similar decision by News Corp., which decided to changing printers for print editions of The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and the New York Post. The new printing plant is The New York Times’ College Point plant in Queens. The company’s Bronx Print Plant will be revamped, as part of a fiscal streamlining measure. The unions that represent the Bronx employees are in negotiations with News Corp, the publications’ parent company. Until they are concluded, printing will continue in the current facility.