|The IJ office in Novato. (IJ photo/Robert Tong)
The Marin Independent Journal says it will close its Novato printing press on Oct. 18 and begin printing newspapers at a plant in Concord, a move that will cost about 30 jobs.
The move isn’t a surprise since the IJ lost its contract to print the 80,000-copy Bay Area edition of USA Today. As the Press Club reported May 19, USA Today is switching its Bay Area printing to Southwest Offset, which currently has a plant in Redwood City. However, Southwest is building a new facility in San Jose, near the airport, where it will print the national paper and its other products.
The IJ plant in Novato has been churning out USA Today since the national paper started in the fall of 1982. At the time, USA Today used the presses of Gannett newspapers across the country, but over the years in several locations has farmed out the work to job printers.
The IJ’s ownership changed in 2000, moving from Gannett to the California Newspapers Partnership, whose majority owner is MediaNews Group (54.23%). The other partners are Stephens Media Group (26.28%) and Gannett (19.49%). Despite its 19.49% stake in the partnership, Gannett decided to take its printing elsewhere.
“The folks in Marin did a terrific job for us for a lot of years, and we were very pleased with the work they did,” Ken Kirkhart, vice president of production for USA Today, told the IJ. “This was not a decision based on people; it was a financial decision, saving us substantial dollars.”
Once USA Today pulled out, the IJ only had its own 23,000-circulation paper and newspapers of the Marinscope chain and the Sonoma Sun to print. IJ said that the owners of the Marinscope and Sun haven’t decided whether to move their printing to Concord or find another printer.
According to the IJ:
- The Independent Journal has published from Novato since 1981, when then-owner Gannett moved the paper from the San Rafael building it had occupied for 53 years to a new, $10 million complex on Novato’s Alameda del Prado.
- The Novato plant printed its first issue in Novato on Jan. 26, 1981, and has printed an estimated 1 billion newspapers on its presses since, including some 731 million copies of USA Today and 393 million copies of the Independent Journal.
While the IJ’s printing is moving, the paper will continue to operate from its offices in Novato. “This is a fundamental change in the way we print, and to some extent, distribute the paper. But it’s not a change in the way we gather content or sell advertising,” said Publisher Matthew Wilson.