At the end of 2019, McClatchy, the media conglomerate that owns the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, announced it would stop printing Saturday editions of the newspaper and run extended "weekend editions" instead.
As it turns out, beginning April 26, those newspapers will also no longer be printed in Miami-Dade County or by Miami Herald employees. Herald publisher and executive editor Aminda "Mindy" Marqués González last night announced in a companywide memo that the Herald is closing its Doral-based production plant and will instead print six days' worth of newspapers at the Sun Sentinel's press in Deerfield Beach. The Herald built its Doral printing plant eight years ago after McClatchy sold the daily's longtime headquarters overlooking Biscayne Bay to the Malaysian gambling company Genting, which then demolished the building.
Yesterday's decision also means the Herald will cut a staggering 70 jobs — 34 full-time and 36 part-time printing press and packaging employees. In the meantime, McClatchy CEO Craig Forman negotiated a contract in which he was set to receive $35,000 per month as a housing stipend on top of his million-dollar annual salary, though that stipend was later cut to just $5,000 monthly. He also received a $1 million bonus in 2019, according to Securities and Exchange Commission records.
"This was a very difficult business decision reached after thoughtful analysis and deliberation," Marqués told her staff in a letter McClatchy also sent to New Times. "As you know, as more readers find their news online, demand for print is declining and publishers, including our sister publications across McClatchy, are consolidating their print operations."
Marqués said the plant would slowly close over the next handful of months and likely shutter by the end of May. She said that each employee at the plant will receive severance pay and that the Sun Sentinel might hire up to 18 of the laid-off workers. McClatchy's flagship will now, bizarrely, be printed by Tribune Publishing, a competing newspaper chain. The Sun Sentinel has printed the Palm Beach Post since 2009.
The news is simply the latest in a long series of blows to Herald employees. While McClatchy's top brass is still making gargantuan salaries, its journalists and workers have been forced to do more with less every year. In early 2019, McClatchy announced it was offering "voluntary retirement" buyouts to workers across its newspaper chain — Forman announced last February that "a bit fewer" than 225 people took the deal and left. But the buyouts also enraged staffers across the chain, and Herald employees announced they were unionizing in October. Workers voted 66-24 in favor of unionizing the following month despite Marqués' repeated pleas for them to vote against the plan. The newly formed One Herald Guild has not yet secured its first contract with the company.
In the meantime, the Herald has done incredible work: Reporter Julie K. Brown wrote a series that led to the arrest of wealthy pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and the paper recently revealed that a Hialeah police officer with powerful family members was allowed to remain on the force after four women and girls said he sexually abused them.
Though the printing plant workers are not unionized, members of the One Herald Guild last night said they will do whatever they can to support them.
"The members of One Herald Guild stand in solidarity with the 34 full-time and 36 part-time employees who assembled and packaged the news of South Florida, whose livelihoods will now be thrown into uncertainty by this consolidation," the guild told New Times. "These 70 colleagues have worked through hurricanes, election nights, and late-night football games to serve this community. We are forever grateful for their contribution to producing our daily report."
This is terrible news for our colleagues at the printing press and we will do whatever we can to stand with them and support them.— Nicholas Nehamas (@NickNehamas) January 22, 2020
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I stand in solidarity with my 34 full-time and 36 part-time printing press colleagues who will lose their jobs in this move. https://t.co/tbRaWswo8n— Samantha J. Gross (@samanthajgross) January 22, 2020
Brutal news tonight as the @miamiherald announces it will move print and production this April to the Sun Sentinel’s Deerfield Beach facility. That’s 70 people losing jobs. Half of them full-time pic.twitter.com/meRxVNrqUT— David Smiley (@NewsbySmiley) January 22, 2020
Marqués, meanwhile, was kind enough to point out that her production staff worked through multiple natural disasters before they were all terminated this week.
"Finally, and most importantly, I would like to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to the entire production team whose steadfast work has built a reputation of dependability and excellence for the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald and has served our community loyally," she said. "They have worked day and night — even through many hurricanes — to ensure our newspapers are printed. "