Hot off the press … down the highway

The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C., my old haunt, began a new era today, outsourcing its printing to a newspaper company in Charleston, roughly 90 miles down U.S. 17.

Our “inside” source reports the paper was a little late in arriving at doorsteps this morning.

Here’s a memo from publisher Pamela Browning posted earlier in March announcing the changes, as quoted in a McClatchy blog:

“From: Browning, P.J
Sent: Wed 3/4/2009 9:01 AM
To: Tsn All Sun News Users
Subject: Outsourcing update”

“All – as you know we have been working toward a contract to outsource our printing and packaging. Today, I am pleased to announce that we have entered into a contractual relationship with the Evening Post Publishing Co. in Charleston, SC to begin printing on Monday, March 30.”

As routine as these developments have become – outsourcing print operations is among many moves newspapers have tried across the nation – what’s disheartening about the news in Myrtle Beach is that at least while I was there from 1988 to 1996, Myrtle Beach and The Sun News were booming. Circulation grew, market penetration was among the best in the industry (at least if you believed the reports), newsroom staffing grew to meet higher expectations for what had been a sleepy small-town rag.

The paper made its share of clumsy missteps, and no doubt has made some since I left more than a decade ago, but it seemed to be one of the few markets that would remain relatively strong. But jeez, when even a town like Myrtle Beach can’t sustain a daily newspaper, you know this is an industry in deep doo-doo.

The Georgetown Times, situated roughly halfway between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, is also published by the Charleston printer.


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