Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Vagabond BJ: From Repository to PD

Starting today, the BJ is being printed on Plain Dealer presses in Brooklyn, Ohio.

In 2013, Ol’ Blue Walls’ Canadian owner David Black sold the BJ printing press and began cranking out the BJ on the Canton Repository presses about 30 miles down I-77. New Media Investment Group, which owns the Repository, also prints the Cincinnati Enquirer on its Columbus Dispatch presses.

With all the extra wide space on the right and left edges of the BJ printed on PD presses, maybe Mr. Black can widen the columns a smidge and get free extra space for the words. It may be an optional illusion, but it makes the obituaries seem narrower.

The BJ newsroom, which was crammed with 250 employees at my 1996 retirement, has maybe 60 now – all on the third floor of the 44 East Exchange Street building that sits mostly empty on the other floors. The building began as a Music Hall before the Times-Press took over in 1930.  Scripps-Howard sold it in 1938 to John S. Knight. McClatchy bought Knight-Ridder, then sold the BJ to Black Press of Canada.

Ever since, the Canadian has been frying the BJ’s bacon.

Vagabond printing presses are not unique to the BJ or the Enquirer. Canada’s Transcontinental prints the San Francisco Chronicle, with its hallowed history, on its Fremont, California presses 38 miles south of the Bay Area.

In 2009 alone, at least a dozen Ohio newspapers reduced the number of days they delivered print newspapers. The Internet and lack of ownership foresight to become an invaluable part of the new technology led newspapers into this downward spiral.

It used to be that what was in the newspaper was only 12 hours older than the previous evening’s TV newscasts. Now it’s at least 24 hours older than what’s posted on social media, news organizations’ web sites or on emails.

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