Northeast Ohio Papers Consolidate

We actually hinted at this weeks ago, but we’ve finally picked up some of the details on a story that’s been buzzing around the local media rumor mill like a supercharged insect.

OMW hears that two co-owned Northeast Ohio newspapers have officially merged their day-to-day operations – as the Lorain County Publishing-owned Medina County Gazette is now being operated out of the company’s print mothership, the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Sources tell us that the new arrangement started March 3, with “the majority of The Gazette newsroom” being required to work out of the Chronicle-Telegram’s shiny new headquarters in downtown Elyria.

Left behind after 177 years publishing in Medina? We’re told that “a handful of sales and classified people”, five news staffers and one photographer now use the Gazette building as something of a satellite office…with the news material gathered in Medina sent via the Internet to Elyria.

The Gazette’s printing operation moved to Elyria’s presses some time ago – which were bought from a St. Louis newspaper.

With the layout operations moved there as well earlier this month, the Gazette looks like a near clone of the Chronicle…a change so visible it prompted this message from the Gazette’s publisher on page one earlier this month:

Today, in partnership with our sister newspaper, The Chronicle, we are embarking on another journey. We are taking the best parts of both newspapers and developing a Gazette similar in design to our Lorain County partner, but distinct in what we offer the communities we cover.

There was no word on how that “journey” affected staffers.

This affects radio as well, as OMW recently reported that the papers’ sister talk radio station, Elyria’s WEOL/930, forced a number of full-time staffers into part-time work – even management. (Maybe if the radio folks could operate a printing press…they could get full time work with the company!)

The answer to our question will be borne out over time, we suppose: Do the Gazette’s readers care that the bulk of the local newspaper’s operations is now based in Elyria?

Or, indeed, with the sorry state of print journalism, financially, in 2009…are both papers endangered along with just about every other newspaper in America?

In a world where your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) can openly speculate and predict that Northeast Ohio’s two largest papers will consolidate at some point (again, just a prediction!)…how much of a guarantee is there that either the Elyria or Medina papers survive past the next year or two?

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