Oct 13, 2020 - Economy

Coronavirus pandemic kills local printing presses

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic hasn't just shut down newsrooms, but dozens of storied printing presses as well — and the closures impact hundreds of jobs across the country.

Driving the news: The Philadelphia Inquirer said Monday that it would be selling its printing plant, putting as many as 500 out of work.

Other presses that have shut down or sold this year:

  • News Corp. last month said it was closing the company’s Bronx Print Plant, where the The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and the New York Post were printed for decades.
  • The Virginian Pilot shut down its local press in July and moved its operations to Richmond, eliminating 132 jobs.
  • The Desert Sun in Palm Springs moved its printing operations to Phoenix, laying off 3 dozen employees at its local printing facility.

The big picture: Real estate is often the most expensive asset that media companies own and printing presses employ a lot of people.

  • In 2019 there were 21% fewer printing press operators and 32% fewer pre-press technicians and workers than in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yes, but: Presses can sometimes be difficult to offload, given that the environmental impacts of the ink and chemicals is typically unknown until the building is ripped up and inspected.

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