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New press brings some changes to your newspaper

Sunday, February 9, 2014
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When it comes to The Daily Gazette, there’s a fundamental truth people who work here have long understood. This newspaper isn’t just the company’s newspaper. It is the community’s.

That kind of ownership is powerful and important. It strengthens our mission, reinforces our credibility and gives everyone who works here the satisfaction of knowing that thousands of people out there rely on us for an essential part of their day.

Mess with their newspaper and readers will let you know, as they did to me this week. By phone and by email, readers reached out to talk to me about changes made to the newspaper when we switched to our new press Jan. 29.

The new press is far more economical for us to operate, but using it required changes in how we package some of our content.

Some of those changes are wonderful. We’re able to print more pages in color, for example. That does more than give the newsroom more opportunities to use great color photos. Photographs in obituaries are being printed in color, as are some of our editorial cartoons. And we’re investigating the logistics of printing our daily comics in color as well. The additional color capacity also allows us to better accommodate advertisers who want to publish their ads in color.

The newspaper that rolls off the new press is about an inch narrower than the old paper. The general reception to the slight decrease in size has been positive. One reader told me the new size fits much better spread out on her kitchen table. Another said it was just a bit easier to hold.

But the smaller size forced us to tweak our page layout, reducing the width of our standard columns. We did not, however, reduce the size of our regular body type, the type used for the text of our stories. That type remains 9.2 points,

The change driven by the smaller page size that drew the most attention this past week was the re-sizing of the puzzles on our daily comics page. KenKen and Sudoko fans were especially peeved when their puzzles shrank. Crossword and Cryptoquote lovers were justifiably outraged when we accidentally sliced off key parts of their puzzles one day. For all of those disruptions, I apologize.

After some tinkering, we believe we have finally solved the problems with the page to nearly every puzzle-lover’s satisfaction.

Those conversations with readers, however, convinced us that a broader puzzle discussion is order, one that needs to reach out beyond the newsroom. Toward that end, we’re inviting readers to come to our offices to talk puzzles the week of March 10th. If you’re interesting in weighing in on any of our offerings, please contact me at 518-395-3101 or at jpatrick@dailygazette.net. We’ll hold sessions during the day and during the night that week.

Other readers are unhappy with the new order of our various sections, which puts the Local section behind the Sports section when you open the paper in the morning.

That re-ordering doesn’t mean we value local news less than we value sports. The re-ordering reflects the need to print sports news later in the evening than we print local news.

Explaining that requires a briefing of how our equipment works. Our new press can print two or three sections at one time. If we need to print four sections (with Life & Arts as the fourth section, for example), the newspaper is printed in two runs: one early, the other late in the evening.

The two sections that are printed late need to be the A section, to ensure the latest news is printed, and the Sports section, which needs to include scores from late-night sporting events. The Local section primarily includes stories completed before 9 p.m., and can consequently be printed earlier in the evening, about 9:45 p.m.

In theory, on nights when we print just three sections — all with the same, later deadline — we could restore the Local section to the second position. But we would rather establish and maintain a consistent order readers can rely on every day of the week.

There are two other page changes of note: Our obituaries have moved to the A section, a move intended to allow them to be printed in color every day. The configuration of the new press would not guarantee color printing if they had remained in the Local section. To free up room for those obituaries, we moved our Opinion page to the Local section, a move which also makes sense because of the page’s strong local news component.

And in today’s Sunday paper, readers will find employment advertising in a new spot, at the back of our Sunday Opinion section. That advertising had in the past been included in our overall classified advertising; the move will help give employment advertising its own identity and increase its visibility.

For us here at The Gazette, the new press offers great new opportunities and represents our company’s commitment to print journalism. One of our goals is to ensure that your voices will always be heard as we move forward.

Gazette Editor Judy Patrick can be reached at 395-3101 or jpatrick@dailygazette.net.

 
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