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Herald-Mail moves printing operations, continues to publish daily

Ten full-time, 25 part-time positions affected

February 11, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

The aging presses will stop running at The Herald-Mail later this year, but the newspaper will continue to be delivered to homes, stores and boxes throughout the Tri-State region.

Between now and April 15, The Herald-Mail will turn over its printing and Packaging Department operations to The Frederick News-Post.

The decision is expected to save The Herald-Mail $750,000 in capital expenditures this year and triple that amount over the next decade, money that would have been spent maintaining and upgrading its 34-year-old printing technology, Publisher John League said Friday.

"The future of our business is digital," League said, and the money saved by the move will be invested in technology such as computers, software and better video equipment.

The newspaper will remain just that — a paper — for the foreseeable future, League said.

"There will still be a printed product .... My obituary will probably appear in this product," he said.

As a result of the change, seven full-time pressroom positions and three full-time positions in the Packaging Department will be affected, along with 25 part-time positions in packaging, where employees put advertising, coupons and other inserts in the papers before delivery.

Some of those employees will be reassigned to other jobs within The Herald-Mail, but League said an exact number was not yet known.

"Informing your employees that their jobs are going away is the worst professional moment of my life," League said.

Those employees affected will be offered severance packages and assistance in finding new jobs.

The Herald-Mail currently has 110 budgeted full-time positions and 90 budgeted part-time positions.

The move will not affect the short-term or long-term profitability of the paper, League said.

"This is not related to this year's operating budget," the paper said in a written statement. "The Herald-Mail remains solidly profitable and had a successful financial year in 2010.

"This is a decision that will significantly reduce our capital expenditures for the next 10 years while allowing us to redirect that money into other areas of our operation, primarily digital development."

The Herald-Mail's Goss Cosmo press was manufactured in 1977.

The Frederick News-Post's printing technology is only a couple of years old, and its TKS press has color capability on every page, League said. That will mean more color photographs and advertising in the paper, he said.

"The Frederick News-Post can print us in a better quality than we can now, and that's because of the press, not the people," League said.

Herald-Mail customers can remain confident of timely delivery of the paper seven days a week, said League, noting the paper will be shipped from Frederick to The Herald-Mail's distribution center.

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