Morning Sentinel
Newspaper now printed in South Portland
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BY SCOTT MONROE
Staff Writer
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 12/08/2009

WATERVILLE -- You probably can't tell, but today's print edition of the Morning Sentinel traveled about an hour -- nearly 60 miles -- more than usual to get into your hands.

That's because today's edition is the first to be printed at presses in South Portland, instead of Augusta.

The printing change is the first step of a press consolidation under way at MaineToday Media, the company that owns the Morning Sentinel, Kennebec Journal in Augusta, Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Coastal Journal and MaineToday.com.

"By moving production to South Portland, we are leveraging our strengths and assets," said Richard Connor, publisher. "Printing consolidation is the wave of the future in newspaper publishing and we are simply riding the crest of this wave."

Under the plan, the printing presses are shutting down at the Kennebec Journal building off Western Avenue in Augusta. All MaineToday newspapers, including the Sentinel, will now be printed on the South Portland press, which is newer, faster and has increased capacity to run full-color photographs and advertisements. Distribution and packaging work, such as the inclusion of newspaper inserts, will also take place in South Portland.

All of the employees whose jobs were affected by the move were offered positions at the South Portland facility.

"We have been able to offer jobs to all of those who wanted them in Portland and that has helped us with this important transition," Connor said. "Another benefit down the line will be utilizing Portland's expanded capacity and technology to better serve advertisers and readers of the Morning Sentinel."

The shift for the Sentinel is the first of two steps; the second will occur next week when the printing change takes effect for the Kennebec Journal, on Dec. 15.

Company officials say the Augusta building will continue to be used for some transportation and home delivery operations until further notice. Reporters, editors and advertising employees will continue to be work there as well.

What changes can Morning Sentinel readers expect as a result of the press changes?

Not many, said Dick DeHaven, interim operations manager for MaineToday Media.

The biggest difference is that an "upcountry" edition of the Sentinel will no longer be printed for Skowhegan, Farmington and towns north; there will instead be a single edition of the Sentinel distributed to all subscribers, DeHaven said.

"That will be the only thing that will be different," DeHaven said.

The Morning Sentinel has a Monday-Saturday circulation of 16,855 and a Sunday circulation of 17,388.

The paper's printing quality, he said, "will get better," but "the first time out of the box we may have to adjust because it will be coming in a different format. The print quality will improve; you'll get more clarity and color pictures."

Paper delivery times shouldn't change much, either.

"It should be very close to the same time," DeHaven said. "There might be a couple of areas that are a little later than normal. So, there may be a half-hour adjustment here or there, but for the most part deliveries will remain in effect."

The South Portland plant will print the Morning Sentinel much faster than the older presses in Augusta, DeHaven said.

For more information about the change including delivery problems, please contact the paper at 877-3341 or (800) 370-5701.

Scott Monroe -- 861-9253

smonroe@centralmaine.com