The Modesto Bee is moving forward with plans to print the newspaper at The Sacramento Bee.
In an update to employees, Publisher and President Margaret Randazzo said that based on an analysis of printing The Modesto Bee in Sacramento, "it is clear that this move makes both financial and operational sense."
"This regional synergy with our sister McClatchy paper allows us to combine resources and streamline processes, resulting in significant cost savings and the avoidance of future capital expenses," Randazzo said in her memo to employees. "This is consistent with combining operations across the entire industry," including at other McClatchy papers.
While stressing that the company is still working through a number of transition and operational details, Randazzo told employees that the change very likely could occur by the end of September.
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Moving The Bee's printing to Sacramento would result in the reduction of about 80 equivalent full-time positions, Randazzo said. "Again, we are still working through many transition details, so employees affected by the change would be notified of the impact on their jobs and severance package details once plans are finalized."
Pressman Mike Dionne, the Teamsters' representative for the Modesto printers, said they saw the handwriting on the wall when the possibility of shifting the printing to Sacramento first came up.
"Everybody's disappointed, of course. You'd always rather leave on your own terms," said Dionne, a pressman for 40 years. "But it's a fact of life nowadays; everybody's downsizing. I just hate to see it go this route."
Randazzo noted that Modesto would have its own dedicated press in Sacramento, which would maintain local control of deadlines while also providing greater color and page capacity. She added that concurrent with a switch to Sacramento, The Modesto Bee would also move to a slightly narrower page format that is the new industry standard.
She added that while The Bee's plate-making, printing, packaging and transportation functions would shift north, other functions -- including the news operation, advertising sales, page make-up and pre-press -- would remain in Modesto.