We are making a change to the delivery of the printed newspaper this week. We will put more focus on the “news” part and less focus on the “paper” part of being a newspaper.
We will deliver three printed papers each week. One on Wednesday, one on Friday and a weekend edition for Saturday and Sunday. We will continue to report the news every day digitally on our website, app and digital replica (e-edition).
We announced this decision on July 24th, and I have received a wide range of reactions from readers and nonreaders. I appreciate the response from those who told me how the printed newspaper has been a part of their lives for many years. Some said they remember reading it as a child, with sections of the paper being split up among family members so each person could read their favorite section. Others told me how they read the paper each morning with breakfast or coffee. They are disappointed and frustrated with this decision. I understand, as I have many of these same memories and feelings.
Regardless, the digital age is changing our world. More than 20 years ago we created the first website for our company. It was a new technology and it allowed us the ability to deliver the news to people however they wanted to get it. At the time, it was a small group of people who preferred to use dial-up internet to read the newspaper on their desktop computer. Today we have a big group of people reading the newspaper on smart phones, iPads, laptops and desktop computers. A majority of our print readers access one of our digital products every day.
Knowing all of this, I am asked, “Why are you making this change now?” The short answer is cost. We all know that record inflation is driving up the cost of most things, and we are not immune to that. We had the choice to spend more money on the paper, ink and gas required to deliver the printed product, invest in our newsrooms to be able to produce more local articles, or pass the cost on to you.
We choose to invest in hiring reporters, editors, and photographers because you deserve comprehensive local news. Without them, there would be nothing to print on the paper. We continue to invest in our newsrooms: Since the beginning of this year, we have hired 12 new team members in our newsrooms. We will continue to do this to provide quality journalism to you.
If you appreciate local journalism the way I do and want it to continue to be a part of this community, there are several things you can do. The easiest is to continue to subscribe, remind your friends of the importance of local journalism. Remind them that we are your local media, not some corporate chain that takes its profits out of state. We live and work here. It is what we have done and what we will continue to do. If you want to do more than subscribe, you can contribute to the Morris Roberts Local Journalism Foundation, whose mission is to support and sustain local journalism. Tax-deductible contributions can be made at www.MorrisRobertsFoundation.org
With this change, two things come to mind. The first is that I have a daughter who is a senior in high school this year. Next year she will be going off to college, and this will leave a hole in our household. I am sure there will be tears shed when she goes, but I know it is the right path forward for her. I think this change we are making with our newspapers will also leave a hole in the morning routine of many households. It will be sad, and it will require adjustments, but it is the right path forward for local journalism.
One of the reasons I believe it is the right path forward is the second thing that has come to my mind: One of our readers who contacted me right after we first announced this change to express his frustration. He wanted me to understand that this would negatively affect his life and urged us to reconsider. I talked to him about the e-edition and how he could get a digital replica of the newspaper each day on his phone, iPad and computer. I told him how he would be able to zoom in on text that was too small, and that we would be able to invest more in journalists. He agreed to try it out. He called me back a few days later to tell me that it “wasn’t so bad” and that he would like to be able to get the paper when he travels to see his children and grandchildren.
If you have not looked at our e-edition yet, I invite you to do so. We are going to make it free to everyone until Aug. 27.
I know this is not an easy change; it was not a decision that I took lightly. This newspaper is part of me, and it has been a part of my family for generations. It is my intention to keep it around for generations to come. To do this, we must adapt and evolve.
I live and work in East Texas. My family and friends are here, and I promise you that with your help this newspaper will be around for a long time.
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let’s cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
2 Corinthians 7:1