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SJ-R Employees, Community Members, Protest Scheduled Print Deadline Change

Mike Miletich
via Twitter
SJ-R Reporter Brenden Moore displays a sign as he and other colleagues protest a decision by paper owner Gannett to change the print deadline on May 27.

Close to two dozen staff and community members protested outside the State Journal-Register’s newsroom in Springfield Wednesday, demanding the paper's corporate owner reconsider a change to the newspaper's printing schedule.

Members of the newspaper’s union, the United Media Guild, sharply criticized a decision by paper owner Gannett Co. to move the SJ-R’s daily print deadline to 4 p.m. It was previously at 9 p.m.

Guild president Jeff Gordon argued the move spells trouble for a paper already in decline.

“The company really relies heavily still on the revenue from the printed product, and unfortunately that revenue is just going to keep declining at an accelerated rate if there’s just not relevant information in it," he said.

Representatives for Gannett Co. have not returned a request for comment. 11 people work in the SJ-R newsroom, which Gordon says is a fraction of the staff the paper employed even a few years ago.

The deadline change is scheduled to take effect June 1st. After that, Gordon explained, little in the way of local news will make it to print each day.

“You can’t get a high school game in, you can’t get a city council meeting in. So much happens later in the day that you can’t cover in the next day’s paper.”

Several Springfield aldermen and even state Rep. Tim Butler (R, Springfield) have all condemned the move on social media.

"A 4:00 pm deadline makes my community less informed. Simple as that," Butler tweeted.

Gordon acknowledged subscribers who rely on the SJ-R's print edition will likely direct displeasure at the paper's Springfield office if the deadline change takes effect. But he said Gannett bears the responsibility for the decision.

"Our people did not set that deadline. Our people did not reduce the workforce," Gordon said.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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