I try not to ask too much from my audience, but starting Monday, I will need something from every person who is reading this column.
It is on this day that the Owatonna People’s Press will be moving its nightly print deadline to 10 p.m. on Mondays and 10:30 p.m. the rest of the week.
Our company, like all others, is seeking to find efficiencies in our operations. The printing plant and its printing, inserting and distribution of dozens of newspapers and other products, is no exception. This change in printing schedules will allow us to provide the highest quality products delivered on time for all the People’s Press readers as well as thousands of others around the region.
So, what exactly does this mean?
Allow me to take you behind the curtain to offer some perspective.
Since I began at the OPP, deadline for Monday’s edition was 10:30 p.m., meaning I needed all stats and information sent from coaches by 9:50 p.m. and written and “ready for the page” by 10:15 p.m. Mondays were rarely a problem simply because there is less going on within the local sporting scene.
Tuesday through Friday, however, was a completely different story. With a “drop dead” deadline of 11:30 p.m., that meant I needed everything submitted from coaches by 10:15 p.m. and written by 11:15 p.m. We pushed this deadline essentially every Friday night in the fall and as many as three times a week in the winter with varsity basketball games often not beginning until close to 8 p.m.
Now, everything is going to change.
Let’s jump right to the major challenges an hour earlier deadline will pose. First and foremost, Fridays in the fall and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in the winter will be tough — there is no way around it. With a new final deadline of 10:30 p.m., I will need all content written and submitted to the copy editors by 10:10 p.m. With football games starting at 7 p.m. and spanning close to three hours, well, you can do the math. Hypothetically, I could have as few as seven minutes to write a football article this upcoming season.
In the winter there are often upwards of a dozen local events taking place three days a week. As mentioned previously, basketball games in Owatonna rarely start on time and sometimes don't wrap up until 10 p.m. Moving forward, if coaches don’t call the newspaper directly after the post-game handshake — and I would never expect that for obvious reasons — it is going to make it difficult to publish a recap for the next day’s print edition.
Alright, now that we have presented the challenges, let me explain what you can expect from me.
First and foremost, I will continue to be active on all of the OPP sports social media platforms. This includes Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. I pride myself in presenting relevant and timely information, and that will not change. I will continue to give important updates via social media and let you know when stories are available at Owatonna.com.
It is also important to understand the ever-evolving environment in which written content is consumed. Unless you have just awoken from a 10-year coma, it’s obvious that a rapidly growing percentage of the public jumps online first to gather news and information.
I feel as though we have done a great job keeping our online sports department up-to-date and informative, and this is only going to improve as we make this transition to an earlier print deadline.
Some of our online content will be more detailed, and timely, than the actual newspaper that shows up at your door. This isn’t because we want to neglect the print edition. Far from it, actually. It’s simply because of timing. With only one full-time person in the sports department and events often lasting until 10 p.m., it is going to be impossible to generate 10-12 local stories before 10:15 p.m. and have them ready for print.
Remember, all of our subscribers can register for an online account for no extra charge. We also offer daily, monthly and annual online passes for those who are not print subscribers. Shorter stories and select features will remain free to the public.
As for feature articles, those will not be affected by this chance. I will continue to highlight individuals from a variety of sports and document their stories for print and online.
I take major pride in our sports photography and that, too, will not change.
This is no doubt a major transition within the sports department, and with all big changes, it will time some time to adjust.
It's going to take patience from not only you, but myself, the coaches and the athletes.