Do you also develop news pages or newsroom-managed projects?
West Third Group focuses on the special-sections/advertorial and corporate publishing areas because the savings are consistently high and there is a lack of controversy in going to market. Our model can reduce costs on the copy desk, but the issues that make it work for special sections — strong senior-management support, great communication and a willingness to change — need to be even more evident for newsroom solutions.
Is any of the work offshored?
No. West Third Group performs all work using U.S. employees and subcontractors.
How is risk managed? What happens if a mistake is made?
Agreements are customized for each paper depending on workflow and such issues as the level of proofing, if any, done by the paper before pages are released for production.
Our basic risk-management cascade is:
- Talk if there’s an issue;
- Determine, first and foremost, what it will take to make any impacted advertisers happy;
- Then determine if any credits or other compensation are appropriate for the client publications; and finally
- Revise operating procedures, if appropriate, to reduce risk in the future.
Why not just tighten things up in-house?
Publications — particularly newspapers — are marvels of functional and operational integration. This structure is a function of necessity, but also of the technology prevalent during the paper’s last growth cycle. Just as military generals are sometimes said to be “fighting the last war,” papers are often fighting their own old technology and staffing paradigms:
Technology: Today, locally produced copy can be paired up with editors and designers in remote locations — a formula for arbitraging labor costs and producing more pages faster.
Staffing: While technology is a relatively easy way for papers to squeeze more efficiency out of in-house operations, staffing presents a greater challenge. Having enough employees for an “average” workload, by definition, means there will be times when employees are either under utilized or burning through overtime. Add in rising costs that are difficult to constrain, like healthcare, and it’s little wonder that per-page labor costs rise annually at most dailies, despite incremental technology improvements.
How are pages delivered to client publications?
The short answer: Any way they’d like. We predominantly work with PDF proofs and generate either high-resolution PDFs or EPS files that are dropped into compositing/management systems, but we’ve been asked to look into a range of other solutions, including working remotely with a direct feed into the compositing system.
Do you maintain archives? How hard is it to access old material?
West Third Group both archives project files for one year and returns copies of these files to client publications on an agreed-upon schedule. We typically deliver files monthly on DVD or CD-ROM.
How fault-tolerant is your technology infrastructure?
West Third Group uses both on-site and off-site back-ups as well as online RAID storage. Our failover cascade is such that no more than two hours’ worth of work would be lost even in a catastrophic failure.
What marketing-related services does West Third Group offer?
West Third Group typically provides concept and cover development of special sections at no charge as part of its agreements. However, because these duties are often performed by artists partially or fully owned by themarketing department, it often makes sense to outsource other design functions in that department as well — particularly at smaller dailies. Duties undertaken may include:
- Sell sheets and other sales collateral
- House ads
- Rack cards and other circulation collateral
- Print brokering