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Herald-Mail rebrands, renovates building

July 27, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • The area that once housed the presses in The Herald-Mail newsroom has been renovated. On July 19, guests attending a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce mixer mingled in the former press room.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

In the wake of the largest renovation in company history and the launch of a new television channel on Antietam Cable, The Herald-Mail Co. is swimming into uncharted waters under a new name.

Since the addition of the TV station, HMTV6, the company has been rebranded as Herald-Mail Media, offering its traditional daily print and online products along with television news and weather.

“I think it’s a real exciting time in our industry, and specifically for our company,” Herald-Mail Media President Andy Bruns said. “Our readership has never been higher, when you count online and print, and now we’ve got a new venture into television. And it’s really exciting.”

Nearly $500,000 in renovations have gone into the company’s building at 100 Summit Ave. The upgrade included new carpeting and paint throughout the building, numerous new windows and tint, remodeled bathrooms and a spacious new lunchroom with new furniture for employees, Bruns said.

All of this is in addition to a television studio and control room that have been installed in the lower level of the building, where broadcasts for HMTV6 — Channel 6 on Antietam Cable — are produced.

Asked about the move to add a television news and weather channel to the company’s offerings, Bruns said it’s a great way to take advantage of the area’s largest newsroom to bring local coverage to Washington County that viewers can’t find anywhere else.

Antietam Cable, a sister company of Herald-Mail Media, owned by Indiana-based Schurz Communications Inc., recently went through an expansion that enabled the company to add channels, which gave both companies the opportunity to partner in the new venture, Bruns said.

“I don’t care where they read us, or see us or watch us. That’s the whole point,” he said. “We have the story. It’s all about the content. And if we’ve got the story that they’re interested in, we will serve it up to them in as many ways as they can possibly consume it.”

Building renovations were completed over the past 14 weeks, Bruns said, but the vision began about a year ago when the printing press was removed from the building, and printing of the 364-days-a-year newspaper was outsourced to Frederick, Md.

With the former press room vacated, that area was renovated with new flooring and paint. Bruns said he doesn’t know yet what the space might be used for, but he is open to ideas, including possibly renting or leasing the space.

The former press room, built with floor-to-ceiling windows, recently hosted hundreds who attended a Washington County Chamber of Commerce mixer.

The renovation has “been a neat process and it was a big investment, but well worth it and something that it was time to do,” said Bruns, who has held his current post with the company for about a year.

“We look at this as an investment in not only our property, but in Washington County and specifically downtown Hagerstown,” Bruns said. “We’re here to stay and we want to have a nice place for our folks to work.”

Asked where he sees Herald-Mail Media going in the next five years, Bruns said it’s difficult to tell, but the company will continue to evolve and, regardless of the medium, bring the community the same quality coverage it has learned to expect from The Herald-Mail.

“The print product — contrary to a lot of people’s beliefs — is doing very well,” he said. “It continues to be our largest source of revenue, largest source of profits. Newspapers are in no way, shape or form dead.”

The future, Bruns said, might lie in the increased use of mobile devices, such as smart phones, iPads and tablets.

Moving forward, Bruns said, Herald-Mail Media will continue to change with the industry, but he wanted to assure readers, and now viewers, that the company and its local content aren’t going anywhere.

“We’ve been around for 185 years. We’ll be around for 185 more,” he said. “I can only imagine how we’ll deliver the news then, but we’ll still be the ones delivering it.”

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