By: Joe Strupp
At a time when Washington D.C. bureaus are having to cut costs and consolidate more, McClatchy Newspapers and Hearst Newspapers are taking the idea one step further — now sharing space in the same bureau.
Hearst, which has about 20 people in its D.C. office, moved the staff on Monday to the Washington bureau of McClatchy. The location change uprooted Hearst’s news and editing group from its previous home at K and 19th streets to McClatchy’s digs at G and 12th streets.
“They just have a small area in the back of our offices, they have three rows of work stations,” said Mary Brenner, operations manager of the McClatchy bureau. “It just seemed to work out well. We have the right number of spaces and they were looking.”
Hearst spokesman Paul Luthringer confirmed the move by e-mail, but offered no further comment on why it occurred.
Among the Hearst news folk in the new location is Helen Thomas, the legendary White House correspondent who is now a Hearst columnist.
McClatchy Washington Editor David Westphal said Tuesday that having Hearst competition nearby would not be a problem. “We don’t think it will be a big issue,” he said. “They are a long way away from the McClatchy bureau side. We don’t expect competitive issues will be a significant concern at all.”
Hearst Washington Bureau Chief Chuck Lewis also found no competitive problems with the shared space: “I don’t think it is a big deal. It is not a big factor.” Asked why his office sought a relocation, he said, “We were looking to reduce real estate overhead and it is a great improvement to our efficiency.”
John Walcott, McClatchy Washington bureau chief, agreed the Hearst move would not be a problem, although he admitted: “there are going to be occasions when we will not talk so loudly.” He noted that just a few weeks ago, his bureau had broken a story about a large Clinton contributor from Houston: “That is where their biggest paper is.”
McClatchy’s bureau, which includes about 100 staffers and the McClatchy-Tribune Information Service, takes up about three-fourths of the 10th floor at 700 12th St. Brenner said Hearst had subleased space from McClatchy, but declined to offer any specifics on what they are paying.
“I think it’s going to work out great,” Brenner said. “They are basically sitting on the side where the McClatchy-Tribune Information Service is, the wire service. They are not on the side with the Washington bureau reporters. There is no interaction there.”
Brenner added that some space in the large bureau had been freed up in the past when NewsCom photo service had left the location.
The Hearst move represents the second time in as many years that the bureau had brought in more staffers. After McClatchy bought Knight Ridder in 2006, McClatchy’s Washington Bureau, which consisted of about 11 staffers, moved into the location, which had housed the Knight Ridder D.C. bureau.
Westphal said he brokered the deal to have Hearst move in, letting it be known around Washington that McClatchy had space to sublease. “Both sides are making sure they maximize their resources and save money where they can,” Westphal added.
The move comes at a time when many Washington bureaus are making changes to save money. Tribune in the past few years has consolidated all of its D.C. staffers from various newspapers into one office, while MediaGeneral recently cut its Washington staff and Block Communications — which owns The Blade of Toledo and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — closed its longtime Washington office.