In a surprise move, the Guelph Mercury has announced that they will be closing their printing presses later this week and moving the printing operations of the nearly 150-year-old paper to Hamilton. The paper itself will stay in production and continue to be published six days a week, but that physical copy will be made in Hamilton, not the Royal City.
The decision was quietly announced on the Mercury website today with statement by publisher Paul McCuaig saying that by the end of the week, the paper will be moving its printing and mailroom operations to Hamilton, and another press owned by the same company. The current press in the Mercury building, being 37 years old, is just too costly to maintain anymore, McCuaig said.
"This is in no way a reflection on the high quality of the work and the dedication shown by the people in our operation. We thank them for it," McCuaig explained. "It's simply a cost decision. With aging equipment and surplus press availability in nearby plants, it's the best decision for the continued success of our business."
The Mercury isn't only losing its press, but it's also losing 36 jobs. A small number of employees from the print floor will be kept on, and the Mercury said that there maybe other opportunities within the company may be available, but for the most part those people are out of work, more casualties of the slow, so-called death of print. McCuaig added that this switch will represent a gain for the paper, despite the loss of the press itself.
A great many publications other than the Mercury ran off those presses, including my old paper, the University of Guelph Ontarion. I remember when I became Editor-in-Chief, I got a "behind the scenes" tour of the press and the operation that produced The Ontarion (and the Mercury, I guess) and it was everything I hoped it would be: loud, enormous and delivering several fresh publications that truly were "hot of the press." It was just like something out of a movie, and you felt compelled to yell "Stop the presses!" for the sport and iconography of the moment. Except now those presses are going to stop, and the moment is just sad.