Sentinel presses on; but change causes discomfort about future | Columns

Sentinel presses on; but change causes discomfort about future | Columns

I am writing in response to the news brief in the Saturday, April 17 edition of The Daily Sentinel regarding the newspaper’s announcement that it will no longer run the massive press that inhabits the three-story portion of its manufacturing plant, but instead, will be printing the paper on a press in Montrose.

If I understand correctly, up to this announcement, The Daily Sentinel has run one press or another in-house pretty much every single day for about 125 years. (Notwithstanding the two-day shift to digital editions that came in 2018). For me — a longtime resident of this community — that’s pretty big news.

When I was young, I had a naive assumption that a newspaper was a birthright. It was something that just showed up on driveways and in mailboxes and eventually laid scattered on the floor on Sundays while NFL games played on television sets. As I got older, I learned that a newspaper was much more than that. It was where superheroes worked during the day. It was where smart-talking ladies sat on the corner of desks to pitch their angle of the City Council meeting. It was where young men pushed up shirtsleeves to hammer out the Friday night high school football game recap. It was where literally everyone looked for the information: the outcomes, the final scores, election wins and losses, and all the finer details of anything happening locally and nationally.

The romance of newspapers influenced me so much that I pursued it as a career choice — working on the Wildcat’s Beat in high school, The Criterion in college, and then yes, achieving my goal at working at a newspaper professionally, at The Daily Sentinel, in three different points in my career.

When I first went down this path, newspapers were arguably the most respected form of journalism out there. Where television could break the news, newspapers could devote much more time to the specifics of what happened. Having a front row seat to the process was an honor. When you’re in the presence of great journalism, it’s a treat. And I can attest that this community has benefited from some first-rate journalists working at The Daily Sentinel. Not only writers, but also editors, photographers, designers and a myriad of folks who handle the business end of the operation.

But now we are here, because time marches on. And as we have all witnessed over the past 20 years, online information technology has hobbled the admittedly elderly format of printing ink on paper and hand-delivering it to doorsteps. Surely we should have anticipated something would eventually challenge this process! But that doesn’t make it easier to witness. And while it is a hefty blow to newspapers, they’re not the only industry gravely affected by the online monster. Almost every business has had to adapt to “progress” or risk being pulled under its tire as it rolls over them.

I do not know, but I’m guessing these things weigh heavily on the minds of pretty much all business owners at night; and probably weigh heavily on the minds of newspaper publishers, the local one being no exception.

And as much as I’m poised as a bystander — witnessing each announcement of change, and passing judgment, perhaps unfairly — I don’t pretend to know what could be done differently than what is being done.

What I do know is that this matters to me, and if you’re reading this, it probably matters to you. As long as I’ve been alive, I’ve had a newspaper to help me understand what is happening. I have had a newspaper to be the source of explanation, the voice of reason, and in some cases, the flame that lights the fuse of outrage. I am watching with concern for this lifetime companion, and I want them to know I’m watching.

Editor’s note: The Sentinel’s production schedule will not change with a move to Montrose on July 7. It will continue printing and delivering a printed newspaper five days a week in the same areas it currently serves today.

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