Pokin Around: An obituary for a printing press whose final run comes Sunday night

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo (Springfield News-Leader).– It’s been years since I’ve written an obituary. This is the first I’ve ever written in advance.

Our printing press at the News-Leader, Gannett’s $23 million investment not only in the paper but in this community, will work its magic and wonder for the final time 9 p.m. Sunday.

That final run will end at 10 p.m.

The press was the best in the business when it launched June 3, 2002; without breaking a sweat, it could handle 80 pages of color and 10 sections and 75,000 copies in an hour.

There was nothing like it in the nation.

When I took the job here in 2012, I told my wife I would have job security; Gannett will never close the News-Leader because of that incredible press.

Well, the News-Leader is not closing. But the press is.

Sunday night, it will print 12,500 copies of Monday’s paper and no more.

The News-Leader is not going out of business. Each morning’s paper will, instead, be printed on a press in Columbia and then trucked to Springfield. I will still have a job, as will my newsroom colleagues and others in the building.

But 41 others will not – including the remaining nine pressmen and those who work in what’s called the mailroom, where people bundle papers and insert advertising.

My son worked in the mailroom for a while. It’s a tough, low-paying job without benefits that, nevertheless, has been a lifeline for people who have worked there for decades.

Sunday night will be tough for Tom Tate, the production manager here at the News-Leader and Gannett’s regional director/general manager for west operations. Tom’s office is here in the building.

“It is certainly going to be emotional when that press stops on Sunday night,” says Tom Tate. “It has so much more to give.”

The closure of this amazing machine – only 18 years old – is a business decision.

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