GateHouse Media announced Wednesday it will locate a new editing, design and digital production hub in Austin, Texas.

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A press release states:

The new facility will create approximately 60 jobs by the close of 2013, have approximately 90 full time employees by March 2014, and approximately 200 jobs by the end of 2014.

So yeah, that’s a pretty big facility. But let’s do some simple math…

GateHouse owns 78 daily newspapers across 21 states. I have no idea how many pages make up a typical GateHouse paper these days. But 200 designers and/or copy editors to spread among 78 daily papers seems mighty thin. If you assign two staffers — let’s say one designer and one copy editor — per daily, that would give you 44 people left over to put on the, um, 257 weeklies, 95 “shoppers” and whatever else comes up.

Perhaps there will be more than 200 staffers by the time every GateHouse paper is produced in Austin. One would hope so.

GateHouse says it plans for the center to be operational in October…

…with all current Design House publications transitioning by spring 2014. More publications will launch at the center throughout 2014.

Where in Austin will the new facility be? In the Texas state house, evidently.

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Or, at least, that’s the way it seems. GateHouse wasted no time at all with this big splashy promo on its corporate web page Wednesday, asking prospective employees to “apply now.”

In fact, GateHouse has put an entire management team into place already…

Mark Colosimo: General manager

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Mark has been general manager of GateHouse’s Ohio papers in New Philadelphia and Massillon. Before that, he was executive editor of Suburban Life Media near Chicago. Previously, he was Sunday editor and news design director at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and an editor, designer and reporter at the Munster, Ind., Times, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Sun-TimesPioneer-Press publications in Chicago. Find his Twitter feed here. Find the press release about Mark’s appointment here.

Jonathan Schuler: Director of operations

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Jonathan moves to Austin from the Framingham hub, where he served as director. Previously, he served as executive editor of Suburban Life Publications in the Chicago suburbs, city editor of the Capital daily in Annapolis, Md., and editor of the Alexandria, Va., Journal. Find his Twitter feed here.

Joe Greco: Director of design

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Joe has been the company’s corporate design director since 2007. His company bio says he’s redesigned more than 250 papers since he came aboard. Find his GateHouse in-house design blog here. Previously, Joe served as creative director for the Gary, Ind., Post-Tribune, design director for the Munster, Ind., Times and a designer and copy editor for the Detroit News. He’s also Region 4 director of the Society for News Design. Joe is currently based in Downer’s Grove. Find his Twitter feed here.

Maggie Hradecky: Director of Community Content

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Maggie joined GateHouse in 2012 and has been working on what the company calls its “Community Content Initiative,” which it says allows “the newspapers’ employees to focus on more in-depth and investigative reporting. She’s worked for newspapers, TV and radio in Charlotte, N.C., Champaign, Ill., Rockford and Chicago.

Doug Gass: Director of editing

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Doug has been a manager of a central design operation at the Downer’s Grove corporate headquarters. Previously, he spent 20 years at the Rockford paper, ending up there as executive editor.

This is just the latest curve in a history of twists and turns through the world of production hubs for the GateHouse…

January 2012: GateHouse announces it will place production hubs in the suburbs of Boston and Chicago. The former will be in Framingham. The latter will be in the corporate headquarters of Downer’s Grove, Ill., west of Chicago.

Just three weeks later: Gatehouse’s Rockford Register Star breaks the news that the Downer’s Grove hub will instead be placed in the Rockford location. The paper reports:

All GateHouse newspapers with circulation of 5,000 and above will be designed in Rockford. Smaller newspapers will be copy edited and designed in Framingham, Mass., at the MetroWest Daily News.

May 2013: Even as the company works to complete centralization of its operations in Connecticut and Illlinois, GateHouse announces it will close those new hubs and open up an even newer production hub which “will not be based in an existing GateHouse Media facility.”

The announcement comes the day after newsroom employees in Rockford requested representation with the United Media Guild.

Other wrinkles…

  • According to the Nieman Journalism Lab, GateHouse was considering going into bankruptcy this year — not surprising, given its $600 million in debt.
  • What is surprising — and disappointing, but all too common these days — is the way management has treated itself. Top executives gave themselves $1.4 million in bonuses last year, reports Randy Turner of the Huffington Post.
  • As I reported in May: Sources who understandably wished not to be named told us the rollout over the past year has not gone as well as expected. It’s not that the front-end system, Saxotech, didn’t work. The system itself worked quite well, I was told. The problem was the cloud-based nature of the system required more speed than the GateHouse papers and hubs seemed to have access to.The result: A glacially slow system, persistent computer freezes and frequent production delays. The rollout was halted in October and never really resumed, I’m told. My sources weren’t able to estimate what percentage of GateHouse papers — 79 dailies, 257 weeklies and 95 “shoppers” — were eventually hubbed and what never made it to hub production.All this would seem to explain a paragraph seemingly parachuted into the middle of the official announcement:

    On a related note, we are increasingly confident that Saxotech is adjusting to our size and needs and will continue to be our primary vendor.

  • And in the “I don’t know if this is significant” department, I couldn’t help but notice that Wednesday’s press release was distributed not with GateHouse branding, but instead on an Austin Chamber of Commerce letterhead.

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Here is the entire press release that the folks at GateHouse relayed to us Wednesday.

GateHouse Media to Establish New “Center for News and Design” in Austin, Texas

Austin Chamber of Commerce and Opportunity Austin’s collaboration with GateHouse Media in site selection process results in hundreds of creative media jobs by 2014

August 14, 2013, Austin, TX – Today, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, through Opportunity Austin, announced that GateHouse Media, a leading multi-media company providing news and information to local communities, will establish a new “Center for News and Design” in Austin, Texas. The facility will open later this Fall and will offer a range of services to GateHouse Media newspapers, and, in addition, be in a position to market these services to a wide range of other US-based media entities.

The facility’s services include existing print and digital offerings, such as centralized copy editing and page design for the company’s hundreds of publications. The facility will also support new platforms and initiatives the company is working on.

The new facility will create approximately 60 jobs by the close of 2013, have approximately 90 full time employees by March 2014, and approximately 200 jobs by the end of 2014. GateHouse Media owns and operates 431 newspapers and 405 related websites.

“We are extremely excited about opening our center in Austin, Texas,” said David Arkin, Vice President of Content & Audience for GateHouse Media. “Austin is really the center of activity in Texas and we believe it’s a terrific location to attract top talent for our company. We believe Austin offers us the opportunity to create quality products today and develop new products in the future based on its attractive talent pool.”

The Austin Chamber of Commerce and Opportunity Austin – a five-county public-private economic development initiative aimed at fostering job-creating investment in the Austin region – supported this investment via collaborating with key leadership from GateHouse Media during the site selection process and providing market evaluation of the region, which has seen tremendous growth in recent years. The publishing industry in Austin is currently numbering 420 companies and employs nearly 10,000 people.

“The Austin Chamber and Opportunity Austin are delighted that GateHouse Media has decided to launch its new design center in Austin,” added Dave Porter, Senior Vice President of Economic Development, Austin Chamber. “GateHouse Media choosing Central Texas further illustrates the diversification of the local talent base and the ability to provide quality jobs for recent grads.”

Gaines Bagby, Vice President, CBRE Group, Inc., represented GateHouse Media locally.

“The City of Austin is an ideal location for creative companies seeking a well-educated workforce and dynamic, innovative community,” said Kevin Johns, Director, Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office, City of Austin. “We welcome Gatehouse Media to Austin and to the ever growing list of creative companies that are helping us Imagine Austin as an economy of the future.”

About the Austin Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Austin Chamber of Commerce is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for its members. For more information about the Austin Chamber of Commerce visit AustinChamber.com.

About Opportunity Austin
Opportunity Austin is the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s five-year economic development initiative to foster sustainable growth through the creation of new jobs and increased payroll in the Central Texas region. For more information please visit OpportunityAustin.com.

About GateHouse Media
GateHouse Media, Inc. (www.gatehousemedia.com), headquartered in Fairport, New York, is one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States as measured by its 78 daily publications. GateHouse Media currently serves local audiences of approximately 10 million per week across 21 states through hundreds of community publications and reaches more than 12 million unique visitors per month through its desktop and mobile websites.

Read more about it — and apply for jobs there, of course — on the GateHouse web site.

Previous coverage here in the blog of GateHouse and its hubbing efforts…

  • April 2, 2010: Ponderings on A1 ads, ‘advertorials’ and that sacred wall thing
  • Jan. 19, 2011: GateHouse media hubs design of three Ohio papers
  • March 1, 2011: Redesigns launched today in Norwich, Conn.; Springfield, Ill.
  • Jan. 17, 2012: GateHouse Media to consolidate design, copy desks in Chicago and Boston
  • Feb. 8, 2012: GateHouse reverses course on location of new design, editing hub
  • March 27, 2012: Meet the new GateHouse ‘design house’ managers
  • June 3, 2012: GateHouse Design Houses in Framingham, Mass., and Rockford, Ill., to begin operation this week
  • May 14, 2013: GateHouse to close its two new production hubs and open an even newer one

Find the in-house GateHouse Design House blog here.

Find the Design House Facebook page here.