The Post-Standard promises better communication, after paper problems on Sunday
Mon, 11 Mar 2013 22:32:09 GMT — The Post-Standard's Sunday newspaper was delivered with some sections missing on Sunday but the 'news' part, the front section, and sports were missing.The paper says the problem was that a printing press that would not start. "This is not unusual," Syracuse Media Group President Tim Kennedy says. "We sometimes have 15 to 20 minute delays. What was unusual, was this ended up taking 7 hours to get the presses started."The press run started at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and was done by 9:30 a.m., but the delay meant that many distributors delivered without the segments printed overnight. There was also a problem with the online version of the paper, which Kennedy blames on a computer issue that related to Daylight Saving Time. When viewers accessed the page Sunday morning, all they found was Parade magazine. Due to a computer glitch, the rest of the paper was deleted when clocks changed early Sunday morning."Well, we had to go find the files which had been dropped, and then we had to go through a process to get the files back," says Kennedy.Not knowing what was going on, and not being able to get through to the paper clearly frustrated lots of Central New Yorkers. The publishers put up a note on Syracuse.com around mid-morning Sunday, with an update in the early afternoon, but newsrooms, including ours, continued to get calls from people who were not able to get through, or were getting conflicting information from customer service if they did. Our attempts to reach a paper spokesperson on Sunday also failed.The Post-Standard did present an apology on the front page of its Monday newsstand edition."We could have communicated the problems that we were having better," says Kennedy. "And we'll improve on that in the future." On Monday, the head of the company that oversees the paper spent much of the day on the phone and on email talking with advertisers and customers. Hundreds of comments on the paper's social media sites reflect that frustration. The comments also show how much a physical newspaper still plays into many readers' habits.As for addressing the actual problems, Kennedy says the Sunday overnight press run for Monday's newsstand-only edition went smoothly. He says 90% of subscribers have now gotten the full Sunday paper, and the rest will be delivered on Tuesday morning.The paper was in contact with Swiss engineers who worked on the press operations early Sunday morning. At this point, they say they know what went wrong but not why the computer program is not working properly.Kennedy says this is the worst failure ever at the 10-year-old presses. With the final deliveries almost done, he expects to spend more time looking at better handling of future problems, including keeping readers and viewers up to speed on what's going on.