Despite some bumps, good progress with our new press

Aug. 23, 2014 @ 03:18 PM

In November 1942, after British forces had won a decisive victory – their first of the war – against German forces in North Africa, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in one of his more famous lines, told the House of Commons:

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

It seemed an apt line to borrow last week after a couple of fairly smooth, straightforward nights with our new press and our new packaging facility. We felt we had turned a corner, even though we knew there was still a lot of work ahead.

And it seemed like a good time to give you a progress report – and to apologize for some inconvenience and frustration we may have caused you as we work through the inevitable bugs of breaking in new equipment with many new colleagues at work on it.

I suspect we should feel incredibly fortunate that we have had only one real debacle. A couple weeks ago, many of you didn’t receive your Wednesday paper until Thursday morning, and those who did receive it Wednesday didn’t get it until late in the day.

Tuesday nights are our busiest on the press, and that Tuesday – the first with the new equipment – we simply ran into one snag after another, forcing our press runs to be later and later as the night wore on.  Things have been getting steadily better since.

We knew we would face start-up issues, and that’s why we’ve been scheduling the paper to print a good bit earlier than normal. Except for that forgettable Tuesday night, that foresight has meant that our carriers could deliver most papers on time virtually every day.  Our carriers have been patient and dedicated as they’ve sometimes faced longer waits than expected to receive their papers.

While those earlier press starts have helped us meet our promise to you to deliver the papers on time, they have meant that we couldn’t report on some evening events – especially sports contests – in the next morning’s paper. We’ve promptly posted reports on those events – especially local ones such as the Durham Bulls games – on our web edition at www.heraldsun.com. 

Our increased attention to the website in the past few weeks, starting even before our press facility launch, has actually meant faster delivery of a lot of news to our online readers, and we’ll continue that emphasis. We know that for a growing number of news consumers, the on-line world is the most important. Access to the web edition is free to print subscribers, and web-only subscriptions are available.

This weekend, as high school football season got underway, our website carried our full Friday-night game reporting as comprehensively – and more quickly – than ever. But knowing that reading those accounts in print is still important to many readers, we’ve added space in the sports section today to better showcase the prep coverage that appeared on line earlier.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to my colleagues in our pressroom who are working incredibly long and stressful hours to overcome the start-up challenges and print your Herald-Sun every night.  No one will be happier than they when we hit cruising altitude. 

I can’t tell you yet when that will be, but I can tell you it’s a lot closer than it was a couple of weeks ago. And thanks so very much for your patience as we get there.