Expansion to printthe Bulletin will be transformation for us
Many media watchers — around the region, the state and around the corner — have followed with great interest the sale of the Bulletin, the Bend-based daily newspaper that covers all of Central Oregon, following its bankruptcy.
Its purchase by EO Media Group — the Oregon company based in Salem but with papers from the Coast to Pendleton — was nearly unanimously applauded by Bend and Central Oregon residents, and by anyone who appreciates the heritage of the high desert's daily newspaper. The fact that the paper will be owned by a long-standing Oregon family ought to be a perfect scenario to the paper to re-establish itself post-bankruptcy.
Certainly the new owners have a lot of hard work ahead. They early on made one of the many hard decisions required as they prepare to take over: They have decided to close their press operations and print the newspaper off site. After some negotiations with our company, Pamplin Media Group, their choice for an offsite press partner was the Central Oregonian.
We are, of course, very excited about their decision. However, we are also now "on the clock," so to speak, in order to gear up and be ready to go. Our current agreement is to start printing the Bulletin by Dec. 1.
So much for a run-of-the-mill fall at the Central Oregonian.
Our company is in the process of finalizing purchase of a new-to-us, refurbished press that can handle the volume and print capacity that will be required to meet the Bulletin's needs. Plus, we'll be installing new mailroom equipment to handle inserting.
The press we are considering at this point we'll be able to run full color on every page of a 14-page newspaper, with excellent registration (meaning the color is applied where it is supposed to, and sharply). The color capacity with our current press is six pages of full color on a 12-page full-sized newspaper. Our press operators are dedicated to outputting the best products they can, but with the old press, excellent registration must often make way for acceptable registration.
We are extremely excited about what the press upgrade will mean for ALL of our products, including the Central Oregonian. It will indeed be a brand new day as far as quality.
The expansion will require us to hire additional people. We won't know how many until we get a better feel for the volume of work we will be doing, including the daily newspaper and the outside products that have been printed on the Bend press.
Currently our press runs the PCO twice a week, the Madras Pioneer once a week, both with press runs of about 3,500, and the region's Roundup papers once a week, with occasional other products or monthlies. It's a very manageable pace that is handled with just two full-time and two part-time employees, working four days a week. Just running the Bulletin seven days a week in the middle of the night will represent a complete transformation of the press shop. The many other weekly and regional print products we're sure to print will also factor huge in the scheduling.
Our initial forecasting, which equates to essentially guesses until we know exactly what else we'll be printing, puts us at hiring anywhere from 10 to 20 people, from press operators to mailroom help.
So, we have a lot of work to do in preparation, essentially every day until D-Day — Dec. 1.
But we are ecstatic about the opportunity this presents; it's good for Prineville, good for our local newspaper and its financial stability. Our commitment is to also make it very good for the Bulletin, soon to be, by far, our biggest customer. We're very appreciative of the fact that the new owners have trusted us with this all-important element of their operations.
Central Oregon has a brilliant future. We're eager to move boldly into that future and to play a larger role in our region's success and stability.
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