E&P Technical: Separation Anxiety

By Rosenberg, Jim | Editor & Publisher, July 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

E&P Technical: Separation Anxiety


Rosenberg, Jim, Editor & Publisher


When an electrical malfunction in late May knocked out The Call's Goss Urbanite press, The Herald News, across the state line in Fall River, Mass., printed the Woonsocket daily and its Rhode Island sister dailies the Kent County Daily Times, Warwick Daily Times, and The Times of Pawtucket.

"We didn't get the papers back until 6 at night," says David R. Dear Jr., publisher of Hometown Newspapers' Kent and Warwick dailies and Southern Rhode Island Newspaper weekly group. So while some May 21 copies made it to retail locations that night, he adds, "the next day we double delivered" Monday and Tuesday editions to subscribers.

Contingency plans to avert future missed deliveries were under discussion, Daily Times Managing Editor Louis C. Hochman told readers the day delivery was restored.

Electrical failure and printing at a nearby newspaper are hardly unknown. It also may demonstrate the benefit of belonging to a group's cluster. But in this case, the built-in backup of common ownership is history. Journal Register Co. owned the Herald News until late last year, and it owned the Rhode Island papers until early this year. GateHouse Media now publishes in Fall River; RISN owns Hometown Newspapers and the Woonsocket and Pawtucket dailies.

Printing at the Herald News (also an Urbanite site) "has always been our backup plan," says Hometown publisher Dear. "Fall River really came through for us," he adds, noting that while production chief Michael Niland, who had served the papers under JRC, is still in Fall River, the publisher there is new. But Dear says Herald News Publisher Sean Burke was very gracious, agreeing to print even when he had no pressroom crew on hand.

"We called folks in. We did it with a separate shift" that afternoon, Burke tells E&P. His employees, he says, demonstrated the same kind of support for those Rhode Island newspapers that they did when their own paper lost power a few months ago. Then, a comparatively brief power outage throughout most of city affected the newspaper's neighborhood for 17 hours. The Herald News was about to print its Sunday edition. The powerless paper's data-retrieval problems prevented it from preparing pages for printing at a nearby GateHouse site. But power was restored, the press ran, "and we delivered late," Burke says.

In Woonsocket, the press was running in time to print the next day's editions after the problem was traced to a faulty electrical board, according to Controller Tom Signa.

Meanwhile, the editorial staff had spent most of the paperless Monday improvising a routine that would supply files for Fall River and for readers' computers.

Page files were sent in Portable Document Format for platemaking in Fall River. …

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