By Darel La Prade
This is a time of profound upheaval in the newspaper industry. Nationally, newspapers are facing a dramatic decline in print advertising revenue, and most are taking steps to reduce legacy costs.
These initiatives are even more urgent in the current economic climate. Raw material shortages are fueling an already alarming rate of inflation and as a result, costs for publishers and our readers are skyrocketing and continue to strain even the most carefully constructed corporate and household budgets.
This newspaper, like others across the country, is facing these challenges head-on, and next Friday, July 1, the first of two significant changes will occur, when we begin printing the paper with a smaller page size. The new page will be about 12 inches deep, compared to the current depth of about 15 inches. This change will save on the exorbitant cost of paper.
The second step will be to restructure our posting schedule from seven days to five days a week. This reduction in printing frequency means that articles will be published and delivered on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. From July 2, our Saturday issue will be discontinued and on July 4, the Monday issue will be discontinued.
Many of you have sent us encouraging and complimentary messages about these changes; others asked key questions about content and functionality; many more made really helpful suggestions, while still others honestly expressed disappointment with the new release schedule.
We are committed to providing answers and explanations to all your concerns and will try to do so as simply as possible.
• Moving to a five-day publishing schedule without offering a subscription refund equates to a price increase and a reduction in service. Your approach is just about money.
Certainly, we understand this reaction. We are certainly taking this action to save money, but not out of greed or a miserly desire to line the pockets of shareholders or owners. The Delaware State News is published by Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA, which, in turn, is wholly owned by a nonprofit trust. INI is a regular, for-profit, tax-paying company, but due to our unique ownership, all after-tax profits are reinvested in the business.
With respect to subscription refunds, we would like to kindly remind readers that even at five days a week, our current subscription rates are significantly less than those charged by similar newspapers elsewhere in the country.
Our newspaper, which has been a bargain for many years, remains a bargain even without Mondays and Saturdays. The value, after all, is not in the frequency of publication but rather in our local journalism. As many of you have pointed out, our focus on local coverage is what gives the newspaper its ultimate value.
Our newsroom is larger today than it has been in ten years, and our goal is to hire more journalists, as we can, to better fulfill our mission of journalistic service, our commitment to the ideals of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and support for our community’s deliberation on public issues.
• I still do not agree with your explanations on the reduction of the frequency. I prepaid my subscription. What are my options?
To discuss your options, we encourage you to call our customer service department at 302-741-8298. We want to do everything possible to ensure your satisfaction, and we have empowered our customer service team to work with you to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
Also, remember that our unique, non-partisan reports are now more widely available than ever. Our coverage is available in print, online and on all mobile platforms — 24/7/365. And, if you’re currently subscribed for seven days, you’ll receive both a free e-edition of State News while your subscription is active, plus one-year unlimited access to BayToBayNews.com, our regional website. acclaimed. .
• The abandonment of Saturdays and Mondays will deprive me of national and international news.
We will continue to offer national and international news as a service, as we have done in the past. These reports will continue to come from the Associated Press. But neither national news nor international news are our real focus. The heart of our reporting is local news – stories that affect you, your family and your neighbors, told impartially and without bias. We believe every story has at least two sides and saving two days a week will give us time to dig even deeper into the stories that matter most. And, again, we intend to increase the amount of local news available to you, whether in print, online or through our mobile apps.
• You say you will continue to use the Associated Press, but the AP articles are biased.
We don’t disagree; we frequently discover implicit biases in the language used by AP reporters. We will however stay with AP and try to make the best of the situation. The Associated Press is the only affordable news syndicate left. We rely on AP not only for national and international news, but also for national and regional sports coverage, including all major league sports, most colleges and NASCAR.
However, reducing our printing schedule will change our use of AP in two important ways. First, as local stories grow, we will replace some AP content with our own work. Second, with more time between issues, we will be able to edit more of the AP stories we publish, so that they strictly adhere to our standards.
• Why doesn’t the State News publish scores for Major League Baseball games?
As a rabid baseball fan, this question struck me, and it’s a complaint I’ve heard from other baseball fans before. When I’ve asked this question in the past, the answer has always been that box scores are expensive and time-consuming to place on the page, and they consume a lot of space.
Prompt with this most recent question I wondered if it would be possible to provide box scores at least for the Phillies, Orioles and Nationals and of course improving our digital publishing software makes , in fact, getting and placing box scores much easier than ever. We therefore plan to experiment with publishing them, inserting the appropriate box score into any story we publish that is dedicated to the three regional teams.
• So how do you plan to handle the horse racing report? Racing fans often live and die by the racehorse entries, and many subscribe to the newspaper for this information.
Race horse fans need not worry. Currently, racehorse entries take place on the sports pages on race days. So that some fans don’t miss this important information, we will start posting race entries from Monday to Sunday. An easy solution.
• We received an email from a reader who kindly praised the State News for publishing a variety of local opinions, comments and letters to the editor.
Needless to say, we were delighted with this reader’s email, which provides a fitting opportunity to announce that our new design will feature two opinion pages Tuesday through Friday and four pages on Sunday. We have also placed all of our opinion content on BayToBayNews.com outside of our paywall.
These decisions were motivated by you. Listening to your comments and reading your e-mails, we realized again that you consider this newspaper to be more than just articles from our reporters or those we publish from The Associated Press.
The newspaper and our website play an indispensable role in thoughtfully forming community opinion and in how we as citizens respond to the issues of the day. Adding more opinion content and making what’s online accessible to everyone is an important step in fulfilling our mission.
• I subscribe to a newspaper and have tried unsuccessfully to register my account with BayToBayNews.com so that I can take advantage of my unlimited access. I can not understand. Can you help ?
If anyone is having a problem signing up for an eEdition or registering an account on BayToBayNews.com, please call our customer service department at 302-741-8298.
We will soon have two short instructional videos that will walk subscribers through step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for their free eEdition or register their account at BayToBayNews.com.
• I love your newspaper, but your home delivery stinks. Delivery is unreliable and often late.
We agree! As a first step to reduce “legacy” costs, we chose to outsource our home delivery two years ago. Unfortunately, the quality did not meet our expectations. We are now in the process of renegotiating our contract with our delivery partner, and an important addition to the contract will be a schedule to financially penalize the contractor for missed deliveries. We believe this step will provide a hitherto absent incentive to improve the quality and speed of our home delivery.
We appreciate each subscriber’s patience and ask that you be patient with us. We will continue to insist on quality and on-time delivery of every paper.
We fight for you. You have our word!
If you have any other questions, feel free to continue them. Call the DSN hotline at 302-608-0062 to leave a comment or question. Or you can email us at [email protected]
Please know that we remain sincerely grateful to every subscriber and reader, whether in print or online, and we thank each of you for your extraordinary loyalty, for your loyalty and support of the newspaper and its digital media, so that they have evolved and will continue to evolve. long into the future.
Darel La Prade is editor of the INI Delmarva group. Along with the Delaware State News and BayToBayNews.com, the group includes three weekly newspapers in Maryland, a fourth weekly in Delaware, and three monthly newspapers that cover Smyrna, Milford, and Georgetown-Millsboro.