Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Best Practice: Oak Ridger Outsources Printing, Switches to A.M. Schedule

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Best Practice: Oak Ridger Outsources Printing, Switches to A.M. Schedule

Article excerpt

This item from the May 3 SNPA eBulletin is republished here with permission of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Assocation


The audit was finished, and the news was bad.

The old TKS press at The Oak Ridger, in Oak Ridge, Tenn., was rare and aging. It was the only one of its kind in the country, and parts were difficult, if not impossible, to find. For several years, press workers would cannibalize one section of the press for parts to keep another running. The press audit found that the failure of a major electronic component could mean a long-term or permanent shutdown.

That wasn't all though. Despite the best efforts of the press crew at The Oak Ridger, print quality was often difficult to maintain at a high level. And even when the printing was sharp, the paper remained very gray - the press had limited color capacity, likewise limiting the newspaper's opportunity to attract revenue for color advertising.

In short, something had to change for the afternoon 7,700-circulation newspaper. Sticking with its old dinosaur of a press was simply playing with fire, and Publisher Richard Esposito decided he didn't want his readers and customers to get burned.

"It had been a long-term concern. These guys did a good job on this press, but it was unlike any other press. The inconsistent reproduction was troubling," he said. "It was very telling when we got the audit back. If certain specific components went out, there were no replacements. We had at one point a 64-page capacity, but that dropped when we had to cannibalize other units for parts."

After months of consideration, the newspaper decided its best option was to outsource printing to the nearby Knoxville News Sentinel, and, in the process, switch from an afternoon to morning production schedule.

"We had to make a decision, and for our customers and readers, this is the best choice. This is the best option we could take," Esposito said.

"I started looking into it about a year before we made the decision," he said. "We finally came to the conclusion the Knoxville News Sentinel was our best option. And once we worked out the details, it took about three months to make the move.

"We talked at length about what the options were, and they were able to accommodate a 12:30 print time for us," he said. "But we'd already been looking at that too. …

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