We usually use our editorials to address events. We’re going to do something a little different this time. We’re going to bring you up to date on a couple things happening here.
First, for fans of Parade Magazine, you’re not missing the insert this week. It doesn’t exist. It wasn’t printed. The company has ended its print run.
That wasn’t our choice. We enjoyed bringing it to readers each week. While not as old as the L-T, Parade’s roots dated back to 1941. It had its challenges — this past January it ran a profile of Betty White that was written and printed before her death — but the publication was something people had enjoyed for generations.
The decision to end the printed edition wasn’t welcome here, with readers or with the publishing community at large. But it wasn’t our call to make.
Part of the issue, and a component people aren’t generally aware of, is simply the cost of paper. Large-scale printing doesn’t depend on individual sheets of paper. It’s based on purchases of massive rolls that spool off the press as items print. A single roll can easily weigh something on the order of 800 pounds, and most presses run several rolls at once. So you can easily have a couple tons of paper on the press at any given time.
Producers have raised prices several times already this year, and we’re not talking about a few cents’ difference. They’re going in much larger increments, at least $25 per hike. When you have those kinds of increases repeatedly, the budget usually winds up taking a hit.
In January, the average price per ton of imported newsprint (much of which comes from Canada), stood at about $586/ton. By August that was up to $683 per ton. There’s variation, of course. Heavier paper, which can stand up to more handling, costs more than lighter paper. And material that has been bleached more to create whiter paper costs more than that which has not. But the trend applies across the board, with everyone paying more to print.
That’s hitting us, too. We’re watching how we use newsprint and particularly keeping an eye on things like wasted prints at the plant. That helps, but until prices moderate the pinch is something we’ll feel.
The other is a schedule issue that you’ll see next week. You saw it last year, too, if you were watching.
For the past couple years, we’ve gone with a very early deadline for the Thanksgiving Day edition of the paper. It hits deliveries and stores on Wednesday afternoon instead of early in the morning Thursday. The big motivation behind the change ties into the press again, or rather the people who run it.
Being a press operator for a morning paper inevitably means late nights. The presses don’t even start running until after all the pages are in. Sports, for obvious reasons, tends to be the final pages assembled. We may not be able to include that 15-inning game on the west coast, but we can get pretty much everything else.
So pressmen are in for a late night no matter what. It’s considerably later, in fact, than even election night for our newsroom. If we stick to a regular schedule those employees won’t get home until early Thanksgiving morning, which eats into the time they can spend with family for the holiday.
By going early, the folks who work our presses get a more extended holiday. Yes, they have to come back in that Thursday evening to print Friday’s weekend paper, but they get close to 24 hours off before doing so. That feels a lot more like the holiday most of us get.
So you’re not going to see Parade in the weekend edition anymore, and we regret that. But when you pick up the Thanksgiving Day edition please know that you’ll be part of giving an often-overlooked part of our paper a very welcome holiday gift.
If you’re travelling next week, please stay safe. Wherever you are, please take time out with the people you care about to enjoy a small break in the routine.