June 16, 2013

Message from the publisher: We let you down last week, but are determined to do better

A catastrophic server outage affected the print newspaper and shut down our website.

By LISA DESISTO

Dear Readers: There is no way to sugarcoat it: It was a tough week for the staff at the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. We let you down.

When I took over as publisher late last year, one of my first projects was to oversee an effort to install new publishing systems for print and online. The goal was to give our staff tools to be more efficient in assembling the paper and updating the websites.

A technology project of this size is an ambitious effort. Up until Tuesday night, we were on time and on budget. We had been live on the new systems for about a week when there was a catastrophic server outage. Both our website and the software we use to produce the print paper were inaccessible for much of the week.

On Wednesday morning, when you opened your Press Herald, you struggled to find the continuations (or "jumps," as we call them) for all of the stories on Page B1. They weren't there.

We also know that our website, pressherald.com, was down for several days. And while this was frustrating for many of you, it was the most frustrating for our journalists, who watched our competitors post stories online that we had but could not publish.

We hold ourselves to the highest journalistic standards, and we must do the same for all elements of our business. We just didn't deliver last week. And for this we apologize.

The timing was unfortunate since we raised the price of the Maine Sunday Telegram just last week to defray the rising costs of producing, printing and delivering the paper.  We hadn't had a price increase since 1998.

We rolled back to our old publishing systems while the company that sold us the new systems gets its act together. We ask your patience as we work through this.

We have to do better. And we will. We're sorry we let you down last week.

Lisa DeSisto is publisher and CEO of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. She can be contacted at:

publisher@mainetoday.com.

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