I love watching football, something I credit to my grandmother and mother, both NFL superfans. I’ve watched pro and college games at all levels, and still buy tickets to Beaver football games, even though lately my husband says they should pay us to go watch them.
But there’s nothing better than a hometown Friday night high school football game.
Editor Derrick DePledge told me that when he first contemplated moving to Astoria he went to a high school football game to “get a sense of what the community was like.” It’s true — you can feel the pulse of the community in the stadium — you’ll see the people who live here, across social and economic lines, showing their sportsmanship in cheering for their kids. We have great fans and supporters in Clatsop County for high school sports.
So when we decided last May to change our publishing and delivery schedule to three days a week, we knew that one of the improvements we could make for our readers — those awesome fans — was to provide sports scores for Friday night football games in the new Saturday weekend newspaper, something our readers used to wait until Monday to read.
Our team committed to make that happen, which wasn’t really as easy as you might think.
In order to get the Friday night scores into your Saturday paper, it meant moving our deadlines up — way up — for the feature Friday night football game story. And moving our press time for the paper back — way back — to 11 p.m. at night to make sure we could print, insert, bundle and deliver the newspapers to the post office in time for Saturday delivery.
This meant we would need to run the distribution line until at least 2 a.m. We had to ask the contractors who do rack, store and post office deliveries to pick up bundles in the middle of the night so we could have newspapers to every corner of the county by 6 a.m.
But our team is awesome, too. Last week, our news crew had photos and a game story to the newsroom within 45 minutes of the final buzzer. The editing and page design were completed and sent to plate seven minutes ahead of deadline.
The press operators had the paper configured and ink set up, so once the plates were on press they had good copies in short order passed to the distribution center. The distribution team loaded the Sports Extra section, B section and advertising preprints in the insert machine to fill the A section, then ran each paper through the address labeler.
The addressed papers were bundled and sorted into postal tubs and loaded out for delivery to each county post office. They were out the door by 1:45 a.m. Our contractors were ready to go, and loaded out bundles for their early, early morning deliveries.
Is it worth it? Do our readers care that we burned the midnight oil to bring you a Saturday Sports Extra section with last night’s results today? You tell me.
Please send me your thoughts and suggestions at email@example.com, or call me at 503-325-4955. I look forward to hearing from you.