E.W. Scripps Launches Central Desk in Texas

By Saba, Jennifer | Editor & Publisher, July 21, 2009 | Go to article overview

E.W. Scripps Launches Central Desk in Texas


Saba, Jennifer, Editor & Publisher


Last November, four E.W. Scripps dailies in Texas decided it was time to push even harder an experiment that was working quite nicely. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the Abilene Reporter-News, the San Angelo Standard-Times, and the Wichita Falls Times Record News were already running the same world and national pages. Why not, thought the leaders of these papers, share even more?

By the end of June, the Texas Scripps papers had launched a central desk to handle all design and copyediting functions for the four dailies.

The central desk is located in Corpus Christi and acts independently but is ultimately responsible to the Caller-Times, the Reporter-News, the Standard-Times and the Times Record News. It's staffed with 30 employees -- designers, editors and copy editors -- and given the diversity and different needs the markets, the papers each have local representatives.

"I think the first thing we had to do was be very clear about the risk and concerns," said Javier Aldape, vice president of niche products for the newspaper division at Scripps. "We believed the best opportunities for efficiency was to maximize pagination and consistent design. That was where the real savings was."

Collectively, the papers cut costs by 30%.

Aldape explained the new structure frees up the papers to concentrate on what they do best: local content. "The content that is less unique and non-local is driven by the central desk."

Each daily underwent a redesign, a process where executives at the papers shared what worked with common goals in mind. While each daily still maintains unique elements, the layout is similar enough so the copy desk can easily fit wire stories with little hassle across all four papers. (Front pages can be found here on E&P's Fitz & Jen blog.)

"Local content is king," said Shane Fitzgerald, vice president and editor of the Caller-Times, adding that each paper calls the shots with local stories. …

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