Let's see how bad it can get
Sometimes, things go from bad to worse.
Sometimes, as in the case of getting the newspaper out, things go from bad to worse to 'you have to be kidding me' to 'just shoot me now.'
Such was the case in trying to get Wednesday's edition of The Newnan Times-Herald into your hands. One problem caused another one, which caused another one, which … you're going to learn a lot about how newspapers are actually produced in this editorial.
Where to even begin? We first learned of a problem early Tuesday when our technology guru noticed our files did not back up overnight as they should. A little more research and we discovered the communication between our main office on Jefferson Street and the printing plant off Highway 16 was down. This is not a good thing. After the pages are laid out, they are sent electronically to the print warehouse, where they are outputted and made ready for the press.
Now we have a contingency for that. In a worse-case scenario, we would simply load the pages onto thumb drives, take the drives to the warehouse servers and output from there. However, turns out we got hit by lightning. Specifically, our main server. What this meant was, even if we downloaded the pages to the server, they weren't going anywhere. This also is not a good thing.
Okay, we have a contingency for that. Normally, we would transfer the programs to another computer and get the pages into that computer so they could be sent to the plate maker. The plate maker is basically a fancy camera. We take the pages in PDF form, send them to the plate maker, and it burns the page's image onto a metal plate slightly larger than a sheet of newspaper. Those plates are then placed on the press, the press runs and the plate's image is transferred to newsprint.
With us so far?
We then realized the program that connects the server to the plate maker wasn't 'communicating' with the plate maker. This, too, is not a good thing. So, even if we were able to get the pages down and then actually get them on a working server, there was no way to get the pages to the plate maker.
To recap, we can't communicate with our warehouse, our server is shot, the program that sends the pages to the plate maker isn't working, and the plate maker itself was hit by lightning and wouldn't work even if everything above did. We do not have a contingency plan for the plate maker. It's very, very expensive.
So we made the decision to have the paper printed in nearby Fayette County. We got our My Connection product down first because it was already laid out and then sent the daily newspaper. Turns out, the paper in Fayette had a couple of other print jobs, as well as their own paper and then ours. But because of the way their plate maker program works, they had to take everything in order. They also had an older plate maker, meaning it took between six to eight minutes to burn a single plate. That's just for a black and white page. For color pages, you have to burn four different plates. Meaning, it can take 24 to 32 minutes to create a color page.
Needless to say, things got backed up. Our daily paper got back to Newnan after 5 a.m. Wednesday. We then had to put in all our inserts. Hopefully, everyone got their newspaper at some point Wednesday morning.
We'd like to thank the Fayette County News for helping us out. We also want to thank our inserters and pressmen for staying to get the paper out and actually seeing the sun rise. Our circulation department and carriers did an outstanding job delivering and taking calls. And we'd like to thank you, our readers, for being so understanding.
We received hundreds of calls from people missing their paper. And that always makes us feel good. Not that we missed delivering your paper, but that you missed it. We are sorry for the delay, and we are working on yet more contingencies to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.