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Saturday October 25, 2014
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Hard Times at the News

 

continued

The Tribune Company, however, is an extreme case: a recent buyout had left it with huge debts. The Michigan Booth papers, in contrast, have been owned by the Newhouse family's Advance Publications for generations. Booth "is struggling, as is every newspaper across the country," says Jane Briggs-Bunting, director of the MSU School of Journalism. But Briggs-Bunting points out that Advance has not made any big purchases in recent years and so should have a stronger financial base to weather the economic storm.

Booth's plan to centralize copy editing and ad and page layout will create huge headaches-but if the company can make it work, the cost savings could be considerable. And this may be only the first step: some suspect that in time the eight Booth papers might share more staff as well.

Meanwhile, though, Booth's local publications continue to shrink. It's consolidated staff at its weekly Business Review, where editor Paula Gardner now oversees both the Ann Arbor and Oakland County editions. And even after a 30 percent cutback, the Ann Arbor newsroom looks robust compared to the Ypsilanti office. Four years ago, two dozen people worked there. In November just five were left, and the last two writers were already splitting their time between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

The office closed entirely as the first snow fell. Announcing the closing, editor Petykiewicz wrote that the paper's "commitment to covering news in Ypsilanti is as strong as ever." But from now on, that coverage will be done from the Ann Arbor newsroom.

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