It's a new era as our new press is up and running
Sunday night was a historic day for the Central Oregonian. It marked the first night — the first of what we hope will be decades of nights — that our press shop printed the Bend Bulletin.
The agreement between our parent company, Pamplin Media Group, and EO Media for the Central Oregonian to print the Bulletin was announced soon after EO Media obtained ownership of the Central Oregon daily newspaper this past summer.
EO Media bought the Bulletin newspaper business in bankruptcy. As part of restructuring the business, it determined it would shut down its printing plant. After weighing options, the Bulletin determined it would print in Prineville, once our company committed to upgrading our press capabilities. That entailed us buying a new-to-us, refurbished press.
Upon the announcement of the printing arrangement, some of our readers had the misconception that we were merging with the Bulletin. That isn't the case. But they are, as of Dec. 1, our biggest customer, by far. Indeed, we are not merging, but we are certainly partnering in this endeavor. We are looking to not only print the Bulletin, but to serve as the printer for nearly all the other products that their press had printed, ranging from weekly newspapers and shoppers to monthly niche publications.
The Central Oregonian's press operation is going from a very small four-day-a-week press to a seven-day-a-week schedule that will be producing roughly 10 times what we did prior to Dec. 1. That's a daunting challenge but one we're eager to take on. When most newspaper operations have had to cut staff as budgets have tightened, our press expansion has allowed us to hire five new positions.
We are also very excited for what we can now do for our readers and advertisers. The new press will be a substantial improvement to our printed products. Registration — lining up the various colors to make sharp photos — was often problematic on our old press, which was a mix of various elements from different decades that were not designed to work together. The new press will be a vast upgrade, and we'll be able to put color on every page of a 12-page newspaper or 24-page tabloid.
The details of the expansion, the on-the-ground changes, are largely the vision and engineering expertise of our press shop manager, Scott Porter. Scott is one of those engineer-mechanic guys who knows a ton and can always figure out what he doesn't already know. Scott brought a huge work ethic to the project, having to eat, sleep and live this new press, and the many tasks associated with bringing it onboard, for about three months, especially the last two months.
Our readers should also know that throughout the process, the Bulletin officials have been wonderful to work with, bending and rolling with the bumps and setbacks right along with us as the process has played out. We've very much appreciated their professionalism and positive manner from the announcement through D-Day Sunday night.
Our company's newspaper operations in Prineville and Madras have forever been in competition with the Bulletin, not so much for advertising dollars but certainly for stories, to break important news. That won't change. We'll still be trying to beat each other in the field. But what has changed is that our independent success is all the more co-dependent, interwoven. In years past, we always wanted more people to buy our paper and fewer people to buy the Bulletin. That attitude has generally gone by the wayside as print has battled for viability in the digital age. But now, more than ever, we want everyone to buy our paper AND buy the Bulletin.
Dec. 1, 2019, marked a new era for us, one we're eager to dive into. Long may newspapers roll in Central Oregon.
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