Being in the newspaper business in 2017 was hard. As Barbara Bock, our vice president of advertising, often says to me, “This business is not for faint of heart.” We compete for your attention in a world of fragmented media and questionable sources. But the work we do is vitally important to our community, and we wanted to take a moment, here at the close of 2017, to thank you, our readers and advertisers, for your continued support.

We had some major successes in 2017 that put us in a strong position to continue to publish important local journalism for years to come.

We installed a new printing press. I know. What newspaper company invests in new printing equipment? We did. And it has been a significant win. In late 2016, we installed a more efficient press; the materials that are used to make pages on this equipment are much less expensive, so it costs much less to operate. With this new press, we are able to successfully compete for commercial printing work. In addition to our own newspapers, we now print The Portland Phoenix, the Journal Tribune and our owner’s Courier newspapers. We look forward to adding more commercial printing work in 2018.

Our loyal subscribers may recall a few delivery delays in 2017 as our press operators got up to speed on the new equipment. Our press crew did an exceptional job learning the new technology quickly. Their training challenge was the equivalent of providing a Mac to someone who had used only a PC for 30 years and asking for the same speed and quality of work. The crew was undaunted by the challenge, and their efforts were so impressive they won the MTM annual award for best teamwork.

We launched new products. We combined our Sunday editions of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel to create Central Maine Sunday, a better, bigger newspaper. We delivered glossy magazines to our Maine Sunday Telegram readers by including Islandport Magazine four times per year. Some subscribers will see Maine Women’s Magazine and My Generation in 2018.

We grew digital subscriptions. Our journalism is expensive to produce, and we can’t give it out for free. Our paywall allows reading of just five articles per month. Readers see the value of paying for digital subscriptions.

We expanded our live events. We produced live events including author talks, business panels, photography exhibits and high school sports awards. These events create new opportunities for our advertisers while helping us connect with our readers. We have even more great ideas rolling out in 2018.

We moved into new office space. While we loved being in the heart of downtown Portland, we moved our newsroom to our printing and distribution plant in South Portland to join the advertising and circulation departments. While many employees at first bemoaned the idea of being “out behind the mall,” the remodeled space is bright and open and offers free parking. We have a bureau in One City Center for reporters who need to file quickly from downtown or meet with sources there. (Home delivery subscribers, if you’d like to tour our new facility, email us at [email protected] mainetoday.com and we’ll schedule a date to have you over.) The move started as an expense-saving effort but has brought an unexpected lift to morale and collaboration. Each day we get to hear the hum of the presses.

We added new partners. In August, our owner, Reade Brower, purchased the Sun Media Group from the Costello family, who owned the Lewiston Sun Journal for four generations. The Sun Media Group includes the Sun Journal, the Forecaster and Current newspapers, a specialty magazine division that includes Maine Women’s Magazine and six other weekly papers. We are now collaborating with our new colleagues, sharing stories across our newspapers and websites, and finding ways to work together for the benefit of our readers and advertisers.

We produced agenda-setting journalism. In addition to producing high-caliber journalism all year long, we published “Lost,” a series about opioid addiction’s ruthless grip on Maine, and “From Away,” a series on immigration, both of which had the power to reshape public perceptions and policy.

We had a busy year. But with all we achieved, we are facing a new challenge that threatens our newspapers. The Trump administration is looking to impose a tariff on newsprint from Canada, which would have a disastrous effect on the entire newspaper industry. We purchase all our newsprint from Canada, as Maine mills no longer produce it. It would be near impossible for us to absorb a 30 percent increase in newsprint costs. We hope the president backs away from that idea, because it could hamper our ability to bring you the journalism you have come to expect from us.

While each day we deliver you a package of the most important news from around the world and the country, we are most passionate about our local coverage – telling your stories. You can read our top stories of 2017 at pressherald.com/mostread, where you’ll find the heartbreaking and heartwarming stories that most captured your attention.

Our dedicated staff of 350 Mainers work around the clock writing stories, shooting photos, selling ads, inserting fliers, printing pages and delivering our journalism to you in print and online.

Thank you for supporting our work. We wish you a happy, healthy New Year.

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