You may have seen the story we posted earlier today about the likely prospect that The Commercial Appeal is going to outsource its printing to a press in Tupelo, Mississippi. The suits over at 495 Union may have all the logistics of this move figured out, but as the editor of a paper that prints on Tuesday nights in Jackson, Tennessee, I know a little about the logistics of getting papers delivered from out of town. And sometimes, it's a bitch.
When I pull into the Flyer lot on Wednesday morning, the first thing I do is look at the dock to see if the papers have arrived. Usually they're stacked on skids in shiny plastic wrap, waiting to be tossed into delivery vehicles. But at least 10 or 12 times a year, the dock will be empty. When this happens, it's usually press problems, sometimes bad weather, and sometimes mechanical trouble with the truck. Almost always, we have papers by mid- to late-morning and the drivers then come in and schlep the bundles off to Huey's, Schnuck's, Starbucks, and wherever else your favorite weekly paper is distributed.
But nobody expects the Flyer to be waiting on their front steps at 6:30 every morning. And Tupelo is farther away than Jackson. Seems to me, the press run would have to be over by no later than 3:00 a.m. to allow time for the papers to be loaded on trucks, make a two-hour drive, be unloaded, stuffed into bags by drivers and distributed all over town. Adding two or more hours to the production process is a gamble, in my humble (and mostly speculative) opinion. If my CA isn't on my front lawn in time for me to read it with my morning coffee, it becomes useless to me. Maybe deadlines will be moved up.
Like I said, it's only speculation. Take it for what it's worth.