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The newspaper reflects on a rewarding year

January 04, 2004|by JOHN LEAGUE

The holiday season is a time of reflection, and as we at The Herald-Mail look back at 2003, it was, indeed, an exciting, rewarding year for our newspapers.

January a year ago, we received word that our audited circulation had increased for the second consecutive year.

In March, we were selected newspaper of the year by the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association in our circulation category.

We formed a color committee, and gave the group the goal of significantly improving the quality and consistency of the color photos, ads and graphics in the newspaper. We've made great strides in that area.

In April, in a change that affected virtually every department: we successfully reduced the width of our press from 55 to 50 inches. Our staff executed this mammoth project with great care, skill and efficiency.

In late spring, we began a project which we dubbed Waste Watchers. A group of employees studied the process we used to create an ad. They recommended dozens of changes, which we implemented. And the new process is working. We have reduced errors in our advertising department by 50 percent.

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After a readership survey and prototype development, the newsroom introduced a new and improved Lifestyle section.

Our circulation department completed a major route redistribution project to bring our circulation distribution zones in line with the neighborhoods most requested by advertisers.

Our building department oversaw the installation of a new heating system that has significantly reduced our energy bills.

Our NIE program distributed 390,000 newspapers to students in classrooms throughout the Tri-State area as an aid to reading, learning and becoming better citizens.

Our United Way campaign exceeded last year's goal, and we increased the number of contributors at The Herald-Mail. The newspaper was the winner of United Way's top prize - the Chairman's Award. It's an honor that we're quite proud of.

Our Pagination Department compiled a tremendous record: 176 straight editions of on-time performance.

Jim Schurz, former Herald-Mail editor and publisher, and one of my mentors, was selected to join 36 other journalists in the Maryland-Delaware-DC Hall of Fame, only the second person from The Herald-Mail so honored.

It has been a great year.

My thanks and gratitude go to all of the employees of the newspaper. It is they who create and produce this wonderful newspaper each day. Their desire to keep learning and improving makes me feel as if I have the best job in the world.

And on behalf of The Herald-Mail, I would like to say "Thank you!" to you, our readers and advertisers. Without you, there wouldn't be a Morning Herald or Daily Mail. Here's wishing you happy holidays and a safe and peaceful new year.

John League is editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail Co. Send e-mail to him at jleague@herald-mail.com.

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