I don’t want to bury the lead, so here goes: The Sunday crossword puzzle isn’t going away when we reduce home delivery of the paper to three days a week. For some of you, that’s not much consolation. For many of you — and I love you for it — that could have been a deal breaker.
In fact nothing much is going away when we go to three-day delivery starting June 1 — same number of puzzles, comics, horoscopes and features as now, but running in three expanded editions instead of six smaller ones. We’re planning to add at least one puzzle feature, so if you have a favorite that you see in other papers, please let me know. We’re shopping.
We’ll be adding a third section to handle lifestyle stories and the extra days of comics and puzzles and other features.
What is going away is three days of the experience of going to the porch or the mailbox to retrieve the paper and see what’s on the front page. That’s no small thing. It’s been one of the best parts of my day since I was 8 and the paper on the doorstep was the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Later, when we moved to Spokane when I was in the sixth grade, I got to have it twice a day, with the morning Spokesman-Review and then with the evening Spokane Chronicle — may it rest in peace.
And may we not rest with it any day soon.
Let me state what seems to me to be obvious. We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t think we had to. If revenue from ad sales and other sources supported it, we’d publish a print edition every day — no doubt about it. But it doesn’t. We hope we have at least as many ads in three days as we did in six, but that number hasn’t been high enough and we have to reduce costs. We’ll save money in production and distribution costs.
Between editions, those of you who don’t want to wait for the news in print will be able to get it online at thedailyworld.com or on our Facebook page and Twitter feed. I know that’s thin gruel for you who don’t have a computer or just don’t like ’em, but whether we like it or not, that’s how a lot of folks receive news now.
An increased emphasis on digital news delivery isn’t the primary reason we’re doing this. That’s more like a fortunate side effect, a tool that several years ago we wouldn’t have had to keep the community informed between print editions. The new publishing cycle will drive our news to the Web and what’s “fortunate” about that is that someday that likely will be the primary conduit for information about our community. A good many of our readers already read us online primarily.
Whether you read the news in print or on your phone or your computer, and maybe someday when somebody figures out how to beam it directly to your frontal lobe (our IT guy is working on that, but he has to fix the printer first) we are still going to produce the most authoritative, credible and accurate news about this community, big news and not so big news. We are not reducing the size of the newsroom staff and we are definitely not reducing the emphasis on local coverage.
If we hadn’t invested a week and half of a reporter’s time to send her to Lewis County to follow the trial of the Courthouse attacks, you’d never have known about the nutcase juror who would have let Steven Kravetz off scot free for shooting a sheriff’s deputy with her own gun and stabbing a judge who tried to stop him. As an aside, if you didn’t follow us on Facebook, or read the online comments on our stories, you’d never have read the comments he posted explaining his thinking.
We’re also the place you go to see who made the honor roll, when the Master Gardner plant clinics are, who has the lead in the high school musical and, unfortunately, news like that on today’s front page, when the body of a newborn was found by someone walking their dog.
In short, we’re still here, we’re not going away, we’re still the most reliable source of news about the community you live in. We were here in 1889 when the community had grown enough to support a weekly newspaper and a few years later when it grew enough to support a daily.
And we’re still here when the economy has contracted and the way we all receive news and information has changed. We’ve adapted. We adapted through a hundred years of changing printing technology, through the conversion to digital technologies and we’re adapting now. We hope we’ll be here when you receive your news on devices that haven’t been invented yet.
We aren’t the first and we definitely won’t be the last newspaper to reduce days of print delivery. As more newspapers cope with the complexities of informing their communities, others will follow.
We won’t print a newspaper every day, but we will be a newspaper every day.
Doug Barker is the editor of The Daily World.