The day the Internet killed the printing press in Asheville: Citizen-Times whacks 60 jobs and will close production facility


Thanks to everyone who chimed in on my blog post from yesterday with notes about the job cuts at the Asheville Citizen-Times. In a Mountains section front story today, the newspaper told us what we already knew — that the Citizen-Times will close its Sardis Road production facility in January and have the paper printed in Greenville, S.C.

Both the Citizen-Times and the Greenville News are owned by Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the U.S.

That means 60 jobs lost here in Asheville, though the story says that some employees will be offered jobs in Greenville.

For the reader, the move could mean less up-to-date news in the print product. With the paper printed in Greenville and trucked into Western North Carolina, there will likely be earlier deadlines for reporters, editors and copy editors in Asheville.

This move is striking also in the sense that just a few years ago, the Citizen-Times printing facility was one of the brightest financial spots of the company. The newspaper made a lot of money from printing the work of other organizations. Where will all those folks now get their products printed?

In a Sept. 10 blog post, I mentioned this move as a likely possibility. Look for more consolidation between the two newspapers.

As this news sinks in, the folks at the Citizen-Times offices on 14 O.Henry Ave. continue to wait for word on how Gannett’s across-the-board 10 percent reduction of staff will play out. Everyone is scared that their job will be axed, but no details have been released yet.

Back to the printing plant: If you’ve never seen a modern printing press in action as it churns out thousands of pages of the printed word, you haven’t lived. It’s a humbling experience for a writer, because the real back-breaking work, the real down-and-dirty job of putting together the newspaper, is done at the printing plant. Feeling the whole building vibrate as pages of newsprint spin through the inky cylinders is a rush.

The people I knew who worked at the press facility were some of the hardest workers I knew. Not only is it tough to work closely with dangerous machinery, but your shift doesn’t start until 8 or 9 p.m. and you work through the night so folks can wake up to a newspaper. Many of the workers at the printing facility have been there literally for decades and the most down-to-earth folks you could ever hope to meet.

It’s sad to think that a daily newspaper will no longer be printed in our community after more than 130 years. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but that thought really depresses me.


theodore November 21, 2008 - 7:11 pm

They print in Spartanburg, not Greenville as they are a NY Times company.

Ash November 21, 2008 - 4:31 pm

yes, arratik

arratik November 21, 2008 - 4:25 pm

If I recall correctly, the Hendersonville Times-News moved their printing operation to Greenville about a year ago. This seems to be a trend.

Melissa November 21, 2008 - 4:23 pm

"It’s sad to think that a daily newspaper will no longer be printed in our community after more than 130 years."

That IS really sad. And — gulp — newsworthy.

Part of orientation at the newspaper was going out to see the presses. Some of the old-guard no doubt went to their graves with C-T ink under their fingernails. As Ed Schultz would say, "These are the guys who take a shower AFTER work."

It is a backbreaking, thankless and critical job and that facility is loud and cramped — but the staff always politely put up with us bemused folks from "downtown." One more than one occasion, they’d catch an error on a plate early enough to call the newsroon and save us from shame the next day.

What a way to start the holidays…God bless them and their families…

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