CLAY FOSTER: Historic time for Journal Inc. with new press launch

By Clay Foster/NEMS Daily Journal

Today’s paper is the culmination of months of planning and hard work to go live on a new printing press. In challenging economic times this was not an easy decision to make, but one that had to be made to drastically improve the quality of the products we produce.
This is a man-bites-dog kind of story because the decision to invest in print media contradicts current industry trends as many in our business are increasingly focused on websites and digital media. We’re focused on digital media and see that as a significant part of our company’s future growth, but we also believe in the future of print, especially for papers focused on local markets that have a strong sense of community.
This multi-million dollar press investment and commitment to the printed word as the primary source of news and advertising information is about as strong a statement as we can make to say that we not only plan on surviving during a time when many in our business are abandoning print and moving online, but we actually expect to accelerate our mission of building community and improving the quality of life in the markets we serve through higher quality news and advertising products than we have ever been able to deliver.
With the new press, the page size will be reduced by an inch in width and one and a quarter inch in depth. Although the pages will be smaller the actual font size of the letters will remain the same. This reduction in page size will reduce the Journal’s newsprint expense, allowing us to remain one of the lowest priced daily newspapers among papers of comparable size, and this new technology will allow all pages to be printed in sharp, vibrant color if so desired, benefiting our readers and advertisers. Not only will the quality of our customers’ advertisements dramatically improve, the new press will allow us to better showcase our excellent photography and graphics. The press will also reduce printing waste allowing us to be more environmentally friendly.
The new press will produce all of Journal Inc.’s publications that include the Daily Journal, the Mississippi Business Journal, seven community newspapers in Northeast Mississippi – Monroe Journal, Itawamba County Times, Pontotoc Progress, Chickasaw Journal, Southern Sentinel, News Exchange (in Union County), and Southern Advocate, and seven community papers in the suburban Memphis area – Bartlett Express, Millington Star, Collierville Independent, Oakland News, Shelby Sun Times, Shoppers News, and the Blue Jacket. The new press also adds the capacity to serve as the anchor for a newly established regional printing business for publications interested in improving their print quality, reducing their costs and avoiding future capital investments.
No doubt this will surprise many in our industry. However, as long as we remain relevant to our readers and provide the quality, breadth and depth of local news content and local advertising reach that is not provided by others, we believe the odds are stacked in our favor over the long-term.
Even with all of the automation this press has, there are no plans for a reduction in personnel. In fact, the expectation is that more personnel and possibly another shift will need to be added in the near future to keep up with the growing commercial printing demand.
As with any new equipment startup of this magnitude, there will be surprises and unexpected problems. Be patient with us as we work through these because the quality of the products we produce and deliver will only improve as we gain more confidence and experience with our new press.
Clay Foster is chairman and CEO of Journal Inc. and publisher of the Daily Journal. Contact him at clay.foster@journalinc.com.