The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will move the printing of its daily newspaper to The Gainesville Times’ print facility in Hall County, AJC Publisher Donna Hall announced today.
Consequently, the AJC will close its Gwinnett County print production plant in early 2022.
The move eliminates 97 full-time and 119 part-time jobs and shutters a plant that has operated in Norcross, Georgia, for nearly 36 years. Severance packages will be offered to displaced employees. There are no plans yet for the plant and its property once it closes.
Print subscribers will see no changes to delivery and service, Hall said.
The move to cease print operations and to partner with Metro Market Media, which owns the Gainesville newspaper, comes at a time when audiences are increasingly digital-oriented and the AJC has a need to balance serving loyal print subscribers in a cost-effective manner while continuing to focus on and invest in its digital future, Hall explained in a note to AJC staffers.
“The quality and timeliness of delivering our printed product to our subscribers is very important to us, and we are happy to be partnering with another family-owned publisher that believes in the importance and survival of local news,” Hall said. “We see this as the beginning of a strong partnership that will help both organizations.”
Newspapers across the country have in recent years turned to regional printing agreements to ease the burden of running costly manufacturing operations. For those newspapers who have chosen to keep their presses running, printing contracts have created new revenue.
“To be asked to join in a partnership to print one of the South’s best daily newspapers is certainly an honor and a privilege. It is a great responsibility and one we take very seriously,” said Charles Hill Morris Jr., owner of Metro Market Media. “Newspapers are too important to fail, and agreements like this help to assure that they will be around for a long time. We look forward to working with the AJC for many years to come in a joint effort to provide quality journalism in a print format.”
The AJC is investing in a future where digital distribution will supplant print, Hall said.
“Digital media has become the primary way people consume our news, and that is our largest audience, by far,” Hall said. “Our business is evolving but our commitment to journalism remains unchanged. The ways by which we deliver and fund the news has changed dramatically. Audiences increasingly turn to our digital formats, including AJC.com, the ePaper, smartphone apps, email newsletters and podcasts. The ongoing support of our subscribers to these digital products is critical to financially sustainable local journalism.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, owned by Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, has published daily newspapers in Atlanta for more than 150 years. The newspaper opened its Norcross printing facility in 1985, with a $78 million investment to modernize its printing.
More than three decades later, the newspaper continues to sell subscriptions. However, subscriptions today come with a variety of options with most options increasingly digital. For local and regional newspapers such as the AJC, subscription revenue is critical to their long-term viability.
“Digital subscriptions are increasing and will continue to grow,” Hall said. “Wherever people see our name they can be confident in the journalism.”