Beginning this week, there will be some changes at The Herald.
The most obvious one to you will be the look of your newspaper, beginning Tuesday. That's the first day The Herald will come off the presses of The Charlotte Observer. The Observer uses flexographic technology, a water-based printing process. It results in a cleaner-looking newspaper, and the ink will not rub off on your hands or clothes.
Many newspapers have gone to regional printing arrangements because of the costliness of maintaining stand-alone production operations. Press and packaging equipment is expensive to buy and maintain. In many cases, newspapers around the country are outsourcing to companies with whom they have only a business relationship. The Herald is fortunate in having The Charlotte Observer, its sister paper in McClatchy, just 25 miles up the road.
Our conversion has been made infinitely easier by the close working relationship between our staffs. And, those on The Herald's production staff whose jobs are affected were able to take positions at The Observer if they so chose.
We owe a debt of gratitude to these men and women who have turned words and photos into the printed pages of The Herald. I hope today you'll read Andrew Dys' column, which pays tribute to these wonderful people.
Other changes are happening this week, too. Behind the scenes, we are upgrading the newsroom's computer system. As we redesigned pages to fit The Observer's presses, this was the perfect time to convert. The new system improves our efficiency in writing, editing and designing pages.
Our readers expect information to be delivered in many ways, including the printed newspaper and online. The new technology is specifically designed to take advantage of both formats. The previous system was designed for newspapers only. Beginning tomorrow, stories can be published to the Web site faster and with more extra features such as photos and videos.
Coincidentally this week, The Herald is scheduled to begin conversion of its circulation customer service calls from one call center to another. Again, because of the prohibitive cost of newspapers equipping and maintaining separate call centers, we went to a clustered call center model some time ago. Banks and many other types of businesses have made similar arrangements. Our parent company now is taking that one step further, contracting with a vendor who can service our newspapers in one centralized center, thereby saving money in an era when newspapers are up against serious economic challenges.
This changeover will be gradual over the next several weeks. Should you have a need to call our service center, the number remains 1-877-421-6397.
A great deal of planning and training has gone into these changes. We have hopes that all transitions this week will be made without a hitch. At the same time, with changes of this magnitude, it's likely we'll experience a few bumps in the road. Should that happen, we ask your patience as we work through them.
The Herald is proud to be your local newspaper, and we look forward to that continuing relationship. Thank you for your loyal readership and support.
President and Publisher