Change is sometimes necessary in any organization, and I want to use this space today to let you know about an important change to the Kingsville Record.
Beginning in March, we are reducing our print run from twice a week to once a week. This will be the last weekend print edition, and following our regular midweek paper next week, we’ll be going to a Thursday publication.
That’s the “what” in what’s happening, but I want to give you a bit of an explanation behind the “why.”
Although newspapers across the country have been in decline for more than a decade, until recently that decline had not been felt as strongly by small, local newspapers like ours. However, in recent years, our number of advertisers and subscribers has dropped.
Chances are, if you’re a regular newspaper reader, this doesn’t surprise you. But you might not fully know why it’s happening. Let me take a little space here to outline how the newspaper industry got into its current predicament. It hinges on two primary factors.
The first has to do with advertising. For centuries, newspapers have relied on advertising in the print edition for the majority (upwards of 70 percent in most cases) of their total revenue. That revenue is what paid for professional reporters, equipment, graphic designers, distribution, printing — almost everything. With the rise of the Internet, worldwide advertising is now dominated primarily by Facebook and Google. Those companies have billions of users, and because of that are able to offer digital advertising at a fraction of the cost that we can. Now, I would argue that we offer advertising advantages that those companies do not, but it’s impossible to match them on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Advertisers have chosen to move to those platforms and away from newspapers. But those newspapers still have the same costs in personnel, printing and distribution they did before.
The second primary factor has to do with consumer preference. While consumers want the service newspapers provide — information about local events, crime, government, organizations, sports — they’ve become less likely to want to pay for it. I can offer you a clear example from our own experience. For several years, we’ve had a page on Facebook we use to post links to stories, videos and breaking news items. Facebook users can access that information for free. We currently have more than 13,000 followers. For our paid print and online content, though, we currently have about 800 subscribers. The gulf between those who want our content and appreciate what we do, and those who want our content, appreciate what we do and are willing to pay to support our work, is quite wide.
So what can you do? There are three things I would ask.
First, if you enjoy our content and think what we do is valuable, I encourage you to subscribe. While buying individual papers in the stores is definitely helpful, having a strong base of subscribers helps us encourage advertising. Many of you holding a print edition while reading this already subscribe, and we certainly appreciate it.
Second, if you have a local business or organization, I encourage you to consider advertising with us. Online advertising through Facebook and Google can be a useful part of a comprehensive advertising strategy, but it shouldn’t be your only strategy. When you advertise in the Kingsville Record, your ad is being seen by a group of people who are within a few miles of your business and are engaged in and knowledgeable about their community. Also, unlike pop up ads and direct mail, our readers sought out and paid for the newspaper — and they want to read it.
The third thing I would ask of you is to tell us what we can do better. Do we run a regular feature that doesn’t interest you? Do you wish we covered something we don’t normally give attention to? Let us know. When I say we are the community newspaper, I take that seriously. I want the community to have a hand in shaping what we do.
I’ll leave you with this. The decision to make this change did not come easily and was not taken lightly. However, it was made to ensure we can continue providing the coverage of this area that you want. This decision wasn’t made to constrict what we do, it was made so we can evolve and continue what we do, to continue telling your story.
Christopher Maher is the publisher of the Kingsville Record and Bishop News. Readers may contact him at (361) 221-0242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.