Jimmy Robinson, longtime foreman of the Scout Press Plant in Murphy, checks out one of the last editions to roll off “Miss Hattie,” which printed the stories from generations of local residents. Photo by BEN KATZ

DAVID BROWN: Scout rolls along with the changes

    Observant readers of the Cherokee Scout should have noticed a few changes in your local newspaper over the last month.
   Some of those changes are very positive. For example, we have the capability to print more than twice as many color advertisements and photos in each edition. And your address is printed on the front page instead of being attached to a label that could come off in the mail.
   However, in all honesty, a couple of those changes haven’t been so positive. We’ve been on the streets and in many stores later than we would like every week. A handful of subscribers in some areas didn’t even receive their newspaper for a week or two. Our associates are working hard to overcome these challenges as quickly as possible, and we’ve just about got it all figured out.
   These changes were necessary because the Scout, as well as the five other area newspapers I oversee – the Andrews Journal, Clay County Progress, The Graham Star, The News Observer in Blue Ridge, Ga., and the Times-Courier in Ellijay, Ga. – now print at Community Newspapers Inc.’s press plant in Franklin. The Murphy plant had first-class associates and served our community well for more than half a century, but it was in need of a new building and significant press improvements that added up to several hundred thousand dollars.
   In today’s economic times, those numbers just didn’t make sense. So our home office made the difficult decision to move printing to Franklin, which has a much more updated press plant and is only an hour away, effective Oct. 1. Since they already printed six newspapers every week, fitting in a half-dozen more means some deadlines have had to change.
   Please note the new deadlines to submit items on page 2A. While the majority of folks sending things to us submit their items early, we don’t want anything to not be printed in time. If something falls between the cracks, please let us know about it ASAP. Don’t delay; we want to get your news published just as badly as you want to see it in the newspaper.
   Two of our former associates are now working in Franklin – inserting supervisor Donna Brown and press guru Danny Hughes – while a few others retired. If one of the other folks who used to work at the Scout Press Plant submits an application at your business, just give me a call, as they all deserve and will receive a good reference.
   Led by press foreman Jimmy Robinson, one of the nicest and hardest-working guys you’ll ever meet, we had an excellent crew who served the area well for many years. We’ll salute them with a special page in the Dec. 27 edition of the Scout.
   This kind of move is not unusual in the newspaper industry today. None of my affiliate newspapers have ever had their own press. Neither have newspapers from Bryson City and Sylva to Blairsville and Hiawassee, Ga. The Asheville Citizen-Times doesn’t even print in Asheville anymore. I was spoiled in Murphy.
   However, rest assured that your local newspaper still will be written and produced by people who live and work in Cherokee County. This is simply an effort to be more efficient with our printing.
   A new report on theconversation.com says local newspapers may be experiencing a renaissance, in large part because we provide a sense of community. Newspapers also act as a check on those in power, create an informed citizenry and encourage civic engagement, which the Scout accomplished earlier this month with political debates in Andrews and Murphy.
   Thanks for bearing with us during this time of change. When we come out of the other side, we’ll have an even stronger newspaper by being relentlessly local. What matters to you is important to us. And as always, thanks for reading.
   David Brown is publisher of the Cherokee Scout. You can reach him by phone, 837-5122; fax, 837-5832; and email, dbrown@cherokeescout.com; plus follow him on Twitter @daviddBstroh.