BERLIN – A series of changes have recently taken place for The Dispatch, the Berlin-based newspaper that has circulated weekly throughout northern and central Worcester County and lower Sussex County for the last 25 years.
In an interview Tuesday, Publisher J. Steven Green announced a new partnership this week between the weekly publication and Bartash, a Philadelphia-based cold off-set web printer. The new relationship has been in the works for the last two months, but it became official with last Friday’s issue, the first with the new printer.
According to Green, while extremely confident in the paper’s news content and overall substance, like the original byline stories, weekly columns, police beat, editorial pages and other lighter community-related coverage, there was a shortcoming in consistent quality printing that had to be addressed.
"We have a strong readership and believe its because we provide sound coverage on matters of interest and relevance to residents as well as visitors to our resort area, but the vehicle that we report our news and other weekly staples needed some improvement,” Green said. “We had some major consistency issues with print quality, especially the color reproduction, and we could not accept that. We have now addressed that shortcoming and the upgrade is obvious."
Green reported this is only the second printer The Dispatch has been affiliated with in its quarter century of publishing in the local marketplace. He said it was a weighty decision, one he feels confident was the right move for the company.
"This was an exciting transition for us, as we had been with our previous printer since our first issue in March of 1984. We are thrilled with the overall quality improvements with our hardcopy edition, particularly the advancements in color – both with the photos and the advertisements,” he said. “Its a significant advancement for us and confirms our commitment to getting better each and every week.”
Another new enhancement offered by the newspaper effective last week, thanks to its partnership with Bartash, is the arrival of an “e-dition,” an online page-by-page look at the same paper you can find on the floor in your favorite convenience store or in a box outside your grocery store, pharmacy, business or library.
"We love this new addition. … it’s essentially an electronic version of the newspaper that allows readers to flip through every single page of the issue, magnify pages and photos and to click on individual advertisements and be directed to that company’s personal website immediately,” Green said. “There’s nothing else like it in our region. You can access this through our website every week at www.mdcoastdispatch.com.”
Other recent company news Green discussed was the premium paper now being used as a wrap on the cover of the paper and the Resort Life insert; the shift to making the paper’s weekly photo pages, Faces ‘n Places, People In Society and Students In The News as well as the monthly Arts Around The Area, appear in full color; the more than 460 fans The Dispatch’s Facebook page has accumulated in a few short months; the Berlin Chamber of Commerce Business After House the paper co-hosted with Kendall Furnishings last night; and an initiative that should bring the papers to the streets earlier on Friday mornings.
“Individually, none of the changes we have unveiled are big news. However, our hope is when you combine all these new aspects together that the community realizes the level of our commitment in tough times and good times,” Green said. “We are not content with the status quo and simply riding out the recession until the market improves. It’s important for our readers and partners in the advertising world to realize we are being pro-active and making investments in our product to improve all aspects of our business. We owe that to them and ourselves.”
Green took the opportunity with this reporter to address a “frustrating” rumor circulating around the region. A number of people have asked him if there was a merger planned in the future involving The Dispatch and another weekly paper. Green said he simply asks them whether they want the short or long answer.
"The short answer is an adamant no," Green said. "The longer answer is there is no interest on The Dispatch’s part in doing anything except staying a family-owned newspaper and hitting the local streets every Friday as we have done for the last 25 years. Our mission continues to be what it’s always been – to get better. … There’s a lot of misconceptions about the overall state of the newspaper industry these days. The metropolitan dailies are struggling. That’s no secret, but this community paper is not. Although we are not immune from the effects of the overall economic blues, like every other business across the country, we are a community newspaper that’s succeeding in today’s marketplace, thanks to some in-house changes over the last year and the noticeable cosmetic improvements within the last couple weeks.”