Column: Getting the news out takes more than mechanics | Opinion Columns

Column: Getting the news out takes more than mechanics | Opinion Columns

My phase is over.

After 35 years and several months of producing a printed daily, the run ended last Saturday when the Aiken Standard did not print a daily for the January 7 issue.

Despite all the obstacles I’ve encountered – bad weather, mechanical problems, whatever – I’ve always liked to say, “We got the paper out.”

Getting the Aiken standard printed has been a challenge over the past year, and even more so in recent weeks. A few days before Christmas we started printing at our sister newspaper in Charleston and shipped it back for daily delivery.

That meant early deadlines and a number of other adjustments. But at the end of last week the required part for our press arrived and should be installed on Friday. We went ahead and prepped the sides early, just in case.

Then Friday night my cell phone rang. It was our publisher and he told me the grim news. Our press was not quite ready and we had missed our opportunity to print in Charleston and get the papers back to Aiken in time.

I posted a story on our website and on our social media. We’ve made changes to the e-edition so everyone can see it.

I woke up on Saturday morning after a restless night. When I go to the kitchen in the morning to drink my coffee, I always look out of our living room window to see if our newspaper is there. And it’s always there, usually next to the mailbox. But not Saturday.

Having a daily newspaper produced, printed and delivered is no small feat. When I returned to the Aiken Standard in September 2019, the buzz around Rutland Drive was the new press for us that had been installed. It replaced the one that had been installed in the mid-1980s – when I was still in college and an aspiring sportswriter.

We produced a special feature on the new press in October 2019 called ‘The Daily Miracle’. It showcased the new equipment and showed all the steps the press operators took to print the ‘Daily Miracle’, our industry’s nickname for the daily newspaper.

When winter storm Pax hit our area in 2014, The Augusta Chronicle (my employer at the time) and the Aiken Standard were each in print daily. There are many cases where newspapers are printed during hurricanes and other natural disasters.

What gives me chills is the horrific shooting that killed five employees of The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. An editorial cartoon shows the five victims arriving at Heaven’s pearly gates and St. Peter holding up a newspaper. “Yes, they took out the newspaper,” he said.

Bringing out the newspaper every day is a source of great pride for the industry. We know you can access our newspaper in many ways, via apps, social media and the e-edition, but there’s something special about this printed product. You can hold it and get ink on your hands as you leisurely flip through the pages.

Bringing out the paper today goes beyond the printed product. This includes ensuring the e-edition is uploaded, publishing stories on the website and posting links to social media channels.

On Saturday I nervously awaited the news that the press was up and running. I got the confirmation in the afternoon and slept much better on Saturday night.

When I went to get the newspaper from my front yard on Sunday morning, a gentleman walking by commented that he didn’t get the Saturday newspaper. I explained the situation and he said he received the New York Times. He then joked that it was light on Aiken news.

There you have it, our reason for being. We’re proud to be Aiken County’s “Trusted Local Source for News and Information.” We’ve been doing this since 1867 and hopefully for many years to come.

Thank you for reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *