Journal Community Publishing Group plans to close the newsroom at its central Now Media Group office in Waukesha.
The company’s approximately 30 Now staff will continue to cover the organization’s suburban Milwaukee communities, many times directly from those communities, and will be based out of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newsroom in downtown Milwaukee, said George Stanley, editor of the Journal Sentinel. The move will take place in September.
“We can fit them in one place now, most people can work remotely most of the time and it doesn’t make sense to keep that expensive separate building in Waukesha,” Stanley said.
Journal Community Publishing Group and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are both owned by Tysons Corner, Virginia-based media giant Gannett Co. Inc.
The Now circulation and advertising staff will remain at the Waukesha facility, 1741 Dolphin Drive, while Gannett evaluates whether to move those operations into a different facility.
“Long-term, we need a Waukesha distribution facility,” Stanley said. “We need to either own the facility and lease out the parts we’re not using, or we need to sell the facility and lease a different distribution center.”
Newsroom staff moving into the Journal Sentinel office will be represented by the bargaining unit, Milwaukee Newspaper Guild-Local 51. The guild recently came to a memorandum of agreement with the company that will pave the way for Now coverage to be included in the print edition of the Journal Sentinel. Reporters and photographers that previously operated separately will also share their work with each other.
At the same time it is centralizing the staff and evaluating its suburban office, Gannett will reduce the number of Now publications from 13 to seven, focusing on regional zones, and run them on Wednesdays so they go to a greater number of print subscribers, Stanley said. Those publications will all be moved onto the jsonline.com site for central access. That slate of changes is expected to take place Aug. 30.
“We’re just able to do it now and we want to do it as soon as we can because it will help us all work together better,” Stanley said.
The Journal Sentinel and Now Media Group publications have undergone significant changes in recent years as the media landscape has changed and the Journal Sentinel has been acquired by The E.W. Scripps Co. and then Gannett.