Mary Redon | for editor and editor
Personnel issues remain at the forefront of news operations managers’ minds, said Wayne Pelland, senior vice president of operations at Gannett, when he called in for a chat with E&P recently. Pelland benefits from a broad view of operations in the industry, as in January he took the reins as chairman of the International Newspaper Group (ING), made up mostly of operations executives.
Aside from the staffing issue involving both employees and independent contractors, problem number two is the rising cost and availability of raw materials, with newsprint being the most expensive and difficult to source, a said Pelland.
The International Newspaper Group (ING) is comprised primarily of operations executives and partners with Editor & Publisher on All-Star Operations Salvation.
These and other challenges will get attention as the band returns to live events after COVID lockdowns, Pelland said. The group’s annual Executive Networking Summit for newspaper operations, production and logistics managers is scheduled for September 18 in Newport, Rhode Island. A golf outing is scheduled for September 19. To increase attendance, the summit was strategically timed to fall on the same weekend as a Gannett golf tournament that Pelland pitched at the time at Providence Journal (Rhode Island). Richard Rinehart, McClatchy’s vice president of operations, is the ING event program chair.
In addition to newsprint and staffing strategies, “we’re going to look closely at mail delivery and independent contractors and what’s the balance?” And then we’re also going to be looking at consolidations in transportation logistics, because it’s such a changing environment for us,” Pelland said.
Pelland also mentioned ING’s ongoing partnership with Editor & Publisher to recognize operations that stand out,
calling it a “very, very positive thing for us”. This is the third consecutive year of collaboration for the Operations All-Stars program, which had more than 50 nominees last year, and this year promises more, Pelland said. Applications are open until August 1.
Pelland, who has served on ING’s board and as vice-chairman, initially resisted becoming group chairman but relented, joking that he had been “tricked”. Pelland was at GateHouse before the GateHouse-Gannett merger in 2019 and had spent more than 25 years at the Providence Journal. He also spent time as a submarine officer in the United States Navy.
Wayne Pelland, senior vice president of operations at Gannett and president of the International Newspaper Group (ING)
In his conversation with E&P, Pelland shared his priorities as chairman of ING.
ING has seen a lot of board turnover over the past year, especially with COVID and a lot of retirements, Pelland said. “My first priority was to bring in a very diverse and experienced Board of Directors so that we could establish a good program for the manufacturing and distribution communities. And I think we really did. ING has added seven or eight board members with strong backgrounds in many different businesses, Pelland said, filling all senior positions, which has been difficult in the past. “I leveraged a lot of my relationships with people, persuading them to participate a bit.” The group had 22 board members as of spring 2022, Pelland said.
The second priority was to return to an in-person conference, he said. Traditionally, the summit was held in Chicago, but Pelland hopes the seaside community of Newport and its Viking Hotel will prove attractions. “We have a great site. A good little town, easy to get to if you’re on the east coast or in the middle of the country.
Other priorities include providing a robust program and a place where sponsors and board members who are vendors can access people like Pelland, who control purchases at their businesses.
ING proved a valuable resource when COVID hit, Pelland said. “We formed a core group of us starting with the ING board who met once a week and shared all sorts of ideas, what we were seeing, how were we adapting to it and how Was COVID impacting our employees and our abilities to do our jobs,” he said.
“I think it’s pretty unique because a lot of companies won’t want to share those kinds of ideas.”
In his day-to-day work at Gannett, Pelland oversees approximately 30 print sites operated by Gannett Publishing Services, which he directs. Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, has more than 230 local media brands.
The company’s largest facility is in Detroit. However, the most prominent location is in Lakeland, Florida – printing The New York Times, Wall Street Journal products, Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times and related products and a host of Gannett articles , including the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Lakeland Ledger, and some East Coast papers. “It’s a pretty busy place,” says Pelland.
Mary Reardon is a Wisconsin-based writer and editor.