June 17. 2013 12:49AM

New era begins, but sad to see old one go

Unless you read us at UnionLeader.com or through our electronic edition, you are holding a copy of the last Union Leader issue scheduled to be printed at 100 William Loeb Drive in Manchester.

Tomorrow's newspapers will be printed by Seacoast Media Group at the Dover printing plant it has leased from Foster's Daily Democrat, which is also now being printed by SMG. That company prints other titles, including the Nashua Telegraph and the Laconia Daily Sun, at another facility in Portsmouth.

Differences in the physical newspaper itself will be hard to notice. The width of the page will be a shade narrower, and the offset printing process should provide deeper black headlines. Watch out, though, that you don't read the paper while wearing white gloves. Unlike our water-based ink process here, offset ink can smudge.

Some of our news and other deadlines have also changed, because our statewide distribution system will have some different routes to travel. But in an era of instant communication, a daily newspaper's job is much more one of providing background, context, and "what comes next" in its news coverage.

UnionLeader.com has given us a new playing field for "late-breaking" or "this just in" news that, in days gone by, would have had us waiting until the next day's paper to report.

Newspapers large and small are making decisions similar to ours. You either become a commercial hub, printing many titles, or you become a customer, as we are doing.

Without the costs and time associated with being a printer and packager, our company becomes much more concentrated on the news and information needs of our readers and on assisting businesses with their advertising and information needs.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the work that has been done for the Union Leader by generations of pressmen and mailers, often by succeeding generations of the same families, is no longer available here.

A few of those people have found work at Dover. Others not near retirement age will find other work.

But even if their pay is good and the atmosphere pleasant elsewhere, it is not going to be the same. These guys (very few gals) have worked together for years, as their fathers did before them. They have taken justifiable pride in their crafts and in helping put out the daily and Sunday newspapers that are trucked to the far corners of New Hampshire to be read in thousands of homes, diners, and at business desks.

They have performed minor miracles with balky equipment and fluctuating electricity and have made up for lost time in the middle of the night so that you would have your paper in the morning.

They have been an important, if unsung, part of the daily life of New Hampshire. I knew several of their dads and uncles and I feel a little like Brooklyn must have felt when the Dodgers moved west.


Write to Joe McQuaid at publisher@unionleader.com. Follow him on Twitter at @deucecrew.