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Tomorrow's news that we know today -- A new and better daily newspaper is born

September 30, 2007|By JOHN LEAGUE

We will begin a new era at The Herald-Mail tomorrow as we introduce a familiar newspaper title on our Monday through Friday newspapers.

The Herald-Mail, the weekday combined edition of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail, will be born around 12:10 a.m. Monday.

About 18 months ago, we began studying the feasibility of merging the morning and afternoon papers into one edition.

We did this for two primary reasons: One, readership of the afternoon paper was declining, and had been for many years. Two, and more important, readership of our Web site was increasing dramatically. We recognized that it made more sense to use the resources to grow our digital audience and services, and to focus on one print edition of the paper each day.

We thought the merger made sense, but we were concerned about the reaction of our readers. So, about a year ago, before making any decisions, we sought input from you through readership surveys.

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Many of you said that as long as your favorite features remained in a merged edition, you didn't really have a preference about whether it was published in the morning or evening. And as our staff and I have talked with many readers, we've been surprised by the readers who've said, "It's about time," because there were features in one paper they wished would be included in the other.

With that in mind, and after a lot of study, we began the process of merging the papers in July. Much of the process will come to fruition today.

Our goal during the merger was to keep our promise to deliver the same features to readers of The Herald-Mail that appeared in either The Herald or The Mail. And we have. What you will see tomorrow morning is The Herald-Mail, a title you're familiar with on weekends, but not during the week.

The merged paper will be larger so we can incorporate more comics, features and news. Deadlines are being adjusted so we can do our best to publish West Coast ball scores in the final editions of the paper. Our plan is to leave nothing out.

What you won't see is a number of people who will now be working primarily on our Web site and digital products. But I invite you to check out their work by logging on to herald-mail.com to look at all we have to offer.

The two most frequent questions I've received about the merger during the past few months are:

· Are my comics going to be in the merged paper? (Yes, we're running all of the comics that appeared in The Herald and The Mail.)

· Will the price of the paper be increased? (No, the price will remain the same.)

Between now and Jan. 1, 2008, we will begin to convert all of our Mail subscribers to morning delivery. Some will continue to receive the paper in the afternoon until the conversion process is completed.

This past Friday was an ambivalent day for many Herald-Mail employees, particularly those in the newsroom.

Personally, I've worked here for 28 years, or two years longer than I've been married. This newspaper is in my blood. We still had two competing newsrooms when I was hired as a Morning Herald reporter. And I have to admit, saying goodbye to both papers is a bit tough.

But while the disappearance of two papers that I've spent the better part of my life working for hurts, any good reporter or editor is more concerned about his or her readers.

And from that vantage point, the merger will result in one paper that's better than the two it replaced.

That is something I'm proud to be part of.

As we move forward and you have a question, comment or suggestion about The Herald-Mail, print or online, call me at 301-733-5131 or send an e-mail to jleague@herald-mail.com.

As always, we thank you for your readership and support of our newspapers, and will see you Monday in The Herald-Mail.

John League is editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail.

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