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December 29. 2013 8:39PM

Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: A momentous year for these newspapers


 

It being the end of 2013 tomorrow, and 2014 about to make its debut, I'm naturally thinking backwards and forwards.

Looking back, it was a momentous year for our newspapers (the daily Union Leader, the Sunday News, and our weekly papers). As of June, we stopped printing them in Manchester. We are now printed in Dover on a press leased from Foster's Daily Democrat to the Seacoast Media Group. The Seacoast group was itself sold later that summer to an entity that owns many newspapers in New England and beyond.

We are like a lot of newspapers in no longer having our own press. It is one of the many changes that have affected the newspaper industry in the last decade. There was that whole Internet thing, for example.

We are not like a lot of newspapers in one important respect. We are not owned by a faraway chain or by a business billionaire using his petty cash to try something new. (But if Amazon's Jeff Bezos or Boston Red Sox owner John Henry can turn around the Washington Post and Boston Globe, more power to them.)

We remain independently owned, by the Nackey Loeb School of Communications, Inc., and the William Loeb Union Leader Trust. Both Mr. and Mrs. Loeb wished to keep the papers locally owned and operated. We celebrated our 150th year as an ongoing daily newspaper in 2013 and, so far as I know, we have never been owned other than locally.

Even when Col. Frank Knox served as general manager for the Hearst chain and later when he owned the Chicago Daily News, the Union Leader remained independent.

Independence has its ups and downs. We aren't beholden to some Dow Jones bottom line. Neither do we have ready access to a mogul's piggy bank to finance big purchases. Hence our decision, reluctantly made, to move printing to Dover and put a "for sale" sign on our huge facility at 100 William Loeb Drive.

A lot of people here, particularly in our Circulation Department, did a tremendous job in this effort, but I want to thank our readers, in particular, for your understanding as we struggled with earlier deadlines and reproduction and inking adjustments.2013 also brought us recognition as the New England Newspaper of the Year in competition run by the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Especially noteworthy is that the judging was by other newspaper readers, not professional editors.

Now, what is ahead? If I knew for sure, we might sell more newspapers. I do know that we will continue reporting New Hampshire news, sports and business, state and local. We will try our best to hold accountable our government and public servants. We will use our First Amendment rights to provide readers with the information you need. And we might even throw in an opinion or two.

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Write to Joe McQuaid at publisher@unionleader.com or via Twitter at @deucecrew.


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