Compass back to mornings

Readers can once again enjoy the day’s Caymanian Compass with their breakfast when the newspaper returns to morning editions this Monday.

The move comes nearly six months to the day after Hurricane Ivan forced the newspaper to change its long-standing schedules.

‘This is another sign of things returning to normal after Ivan,’ said publisher Brian Uzzell. ‘It’s been a long journey to get here.’

The Compass sustained severe damage to both its offices and printing equipment during the hurricane.

‘We really didn’t have a choice but to go to an afternoon edition for a while,’ said Mr. Uzzell. ‘In a testament to our staff and loyal readers, we were able to succeed at being an afternoon newspaper, when no one else in the world can. We actually increased our newspaper sales numbers.’

After printing in Jamaica, first only on Fridays and then on Tuesdays as well, the newspaper went daily again when on-island printing recommenced on 1 December.

Things were far from normal, however, and it was only recently that many aspects of pre-Ivan operations began to reappear.

‘We recognize it is now time to get back to normal,’ said Mr. Uzzell. ‘I think our readers and advertisers want to see the Compass at the same time they used to so they can feel more normal, too.’

The change comes at a time of several key developments at the Compass.

‘Our new printing presses arrived just this week,’ said Mr. Uzzell. ‘As a result, many of our other titles will now begin to come back on line.’

Publications scheduled for re-launch include Inside Out on 15 March, Key to Cayman for the 2005/06 winter season, and the Compass TV Guide in May.

In the meantime, The Journal re-launched in January and an interim weekly TV Guide insert launched last Monday.

The main Compass offices have also undergone a transformation, and the reception and sales team moved back in last month. The editorial staff will follow later this month.

The newspaper has also used the transition time to assess the Compass product said editor Tammie Chisholm.

‘We’ve looked at ways to make improvements in our content, in our look and in all other areas of our operation,’ she said. ‘And we will continue striving to improve.’

One major addition to the product was the launch of the on-line version of the newspaper in January at www.caycompass.com.

‘We had planned to launch the Website on 6 October, 2004 at the start of our 40th year,’ said Mr. Uzzell. ‘But Ivan played havoc with that idea.

‘What we’ve launched so far on-line is just the first phase’ he said. ‘We’re planning many exciting improvements in the future, including things like a readers’ forum.’

Right now, readers can download the weekly TV Guide from the website, and eventually all of the Cayman Free Press publications will be accessible on-line.

Street vendors selling the newspaper are another innovation the Compass has commenced, leading to record-breaking sales and jobs for Caymanians.

‘We’ll still use our street vendors with the new schedule, but they’ll be out during the morning rush hour,’ said Mr. Uzzell

As was the case pre-Ivan, the Compass will begin distribution in the early evening the day before dateline at supermarkets, gas stations and other retail outlets.

This Monday’s edition only, however, will not hit the streets until 6 am.

Advertising deadlines will remain the same for the new schedule except the newspaper will come out the night before.

Mr. Uzzell said he was grateful for the patience readers and advertisers have shown this past six months.

‘It’s been a difficult time for us all,’ he said. ‘But with a team effort we are improving our products every day.’

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