We made the big announcement last week.
We told the world that beginning Feb. 3:
• We’re starting a Sunday print edition;
• The schedule for our print edition will be thee times per week instead of the current six;
• There will be no layoffs from this change;
• We’re installing a state-of-the art computer system which will allow us to share national and international news and sports with other Digital First Media newsrooms, freeing our staff to spend more time on local news.
This is a big change for us, one that hasn’t made all our readers happy. I thought I’d share some background.
If the Feb. 3 date sounds familiar, it should; it’s the same day the Syracuse Post Standard is also going to three-days-per week publication.
It’s no secret the Post Standard provides our printing and delivery services.
But those services are now only available on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
When Syracuse announced their changes (we had about 15 minutes’ advance notice) we examined our options. Here’s what we came up with:
• We could find somewhere else to print our paper (relatively easy) and assemble a carrier force and set up routes (not so easy, and frighteningly expensive). On the one hand, we could probably pick up some subscribers who’d leave Syracuse because of their 3-day publication; on the other hand we’d have to jack up our prices to pay for it all. I don’t think that would work out so well.
• We could stop printing altogether and become an Internet-only publication, but although our website is growing quickly, print still represents more than half our business.
• We could go with the flow and publish our print edition on the same day Syracuse does.
We chose the third option; it was the only logical choice.
We were reluctant to make this move. I know a lot of people like newspapers and want them delivered at the same time every day.
And not everybody uses the Internet.
But there are big advantages to this plan.
It’s expensive to print a newspaper and expensive to drive to thousands of locations to deliver it; the costs of both of these are only going to rise.
By printing and delivering half as many days, we can afford to provide at least twice as many pages of local news each of those days.
And all the local news (and daily features, puzzles and comics) will be in those three newspapers.
In other words, our newspaper readers won’t miss out on anything, except a few weekly visits from their carrier.
We didn’t take this decision lightly. Hey, I’m a newspaper reader, too.
But anyone who’s been following current events at all knows it’s tough these days for the newspaper business.
And we are a business. Yes, we serve the public, but we need to make a profit doing it.
We think this 3-day model will allow us to keep doing it for a long time.
Meanwhile, we will use our new digital tools to continually improve our online offerings.
We will give people the news faster and better on home computers, smartphones and tablets.
We’ll use video, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, live-streaming and any new tools that hold promise.
While I’m a bit wistful about the end of our 6-day newspaper publication, I’m excited about what we’re going to be able to do online.
The newspaper will have all the features of the old one (and more), plus will have a modern new look.
I ask that you give it a chance. Read it, kick the tires, get to know it.
I’m holding a pair of 1-hour Community Media Lab events in The Dispatch offices on the days the first two editions come out. I’m hoping people attend, in person or via an Internet live-stream, and share their observations and suggestions.
The sessions are:
• Sunday, Feb. 3, noon to 1 p.m.
• Tuesday, Feb. 5, 7-8 p.m.