Imagine doing a complete remodel of your house … while you’re getting divorced.
Welcome to The World newspaper.
Country Media bought The World, and its sister weeklies in Bandon and Reedsport, on Feb. 1. Ever since, we’ve been struggling to divorce ourselves from their former owner.
For something like 15 years, the three publications were owned by Lee Enterprises, a publicly traded media company that owns some 50 U.S. dailies and scores of non-dailies. As with most such organizations, Lee operates its businesses in a very centralized fashion.
That means Lee does virtually all of its newspapers’ accounting, purchasing, human resources management, information technology, circulation management and general management – among other functions – at one or more centralized locations, many of them in the Midwest.
All of The World’s local ads were being built several states away by Lee and a subcontractor. The majority of The World’s pages were being designed and produced each day at a Lee facility in the Midwest, then transmitted electronically to Coos Bay.
This was done via Lee’s proprietary, wholly-owned software programs and a highly secure computer network – none of which we could acquire as part of the sale, or use other than for a brief transition period.
That meant we needed to replace virtually all of The World’s technology, needed to find and contract with a host of new vendors, needed to install new programs and systems (the list goes on).
That’s the “divorce,” which has been much worse than simply starting from scratch, even with gracious transition help provided by numerous Lee personnel.
As for the “remodel,” we’ve been able to bring some of the jobs that Lee had farmed out to other locations back to Coos Bay, starting with the computerized ad building and page building work. And we’re already hiring for other jobs here.
But like any major remodeling project, this one has moved forward in fits and spurts. I admit to muttering that it would have been much easier to contract with other offsite providers to do what Lee had been doing at its own remote locations, without retaining, hiring and training workers here.
But as an Oregon-based, family-owned company, we want to be an asset to those communities we serve – including providing local employment.
We sincerely apologize for a recent week of missing newspaper delivery deadlines, producing maybe less-professional-looking pages, generally appearing to fumble the ball.
That said, we’re making considerable progress on our remodel … even though, as building owners often do, we’re identifying new projects at The World we want to undertake next.
As for the divorce … we finished unplugging from Lee on Monday. We expect to be on firmer footing soon.
And we expect more jobs to fill at our plant here in Coos Bay. Which we think will make all this muss and fuss worthwhile.