This past Thursday our readers were shocked to see our regular broadsheet edition shrunk down to a tabloid size. While the general layout looked familiar — with six beefy front page stories, great photos and teasers for inside stories — the photos were slightly distorted and it had an odd look that many readers couldn’t quite put their fingers on.
But readers did notice the smaller type size; and they let us know about it!
“I hope this isn’t a move to save on the price of ink,” read one comment on our email. “Do a get a free magnifying glass with a copy of my paper this week,” wrote another. “Oh please say this isn’t going to be how the paper is printed every Thursday,” wrote another loyal subscriber. “I love my Addy Indy and I couldn’t stand to see it printed so small.”
Well, folks, in case you haven’t heard, last Thursday’s printing was a printer’s mistake. As we noted on the front page of Thursday’s issue, our usual printer, the St. Albans Messenger, has had press troubles for the past two weeks and the Burlington Free Press had kindly offered to print us in this emergency situation. We gratefully accepted, but their pressmen are still trying to figure out the various configurations of their new press, which is now set up to print a tabloid size, and in both Thursday issues they had some problems.
The week before, they shrunk down the type a few percentage points, then floated it on a printed sheet that had two-inch margins all around, and while they told us they could provide color pages in the requested spots, it didn’t happen. So it goes. At least we got the paper out that first week, it wasn’t late, and most everyone was very gracious and understanding of the predicament and how it was handled.
This week, however, was a bit much. We had been in touch with the pressmen there two days prior and we all thought — on both ends — we knew exactly what was being asked and what we expected to have delivered. It was a meaty paper with a dozen staff-written stories and great advertisements in a 36-page broadsheet paper — that’s 4,572 column inches of stories, photos and advertisements. To produce that volume of news, photos and local advertisements it takes all 21 of us about 588 man-hours. That is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that we pour into each Thursday paper.
And to see it shrunk into a tabloid size, with type that was too small to read by most everyone except students and a few lucky souls in their 20s and 30s, was a kick in the keester.
Believe us when we say we were far more disappointed and mortified than most of you.
It was a mistake. The pressmen at the Burlington Free Press, the story goes, had tried to set it up in the broadsheet format and thought it was going to work, but then they got a bit behind, realized they couldn’t print that many pages soon enough to meet deadlines, so opted to get it done the only way they knew how. It wasn’t what we wanted; and it wasn’t what they told us they would deliver to us; but it was what we had last Thursday mid-morning with no other way to get it printed otherwise.
Life isn’t flawless, and we live and work in a deadline business. Some days, you just have to do what you can.
But if there was a silver lining in last week’s rather gloomy cloud, it was the sincere tone of concern that most of our readers expressed, while almost always complimenting us on the fact it was your favorite paper and you were hoping it could continue as it always has. It was amazing: rather than having readers berate us, most just wanted to be sure we heard their concerns and hoped we might reconsider (if we were really going to use such small type.) One reader even suggested she would gladly pay more for her subscription if that meant the type size could be increased back to normal.
Such words warmed our collective soul.
So, dear readers, I can positively say it ain’t so. We are not reducing the Thursday paper in any way, shape or form. The press at St. Albans is fixed, for the time being, and we expect a perfect run next week with our full six-column wide format, at 21 inches tall, with larger type, easy to read ads and big, bold photos to capture the drama of the week. Enjoy, and much heartfelt thanks for your understanding and kind words of support.
Angelo S. Lynn