There are weeks when I sit down to compose this Sunday column when I have no idea what I’m going to write about.
I’ll stare at a blank screen for a while, then get up and walk around or switch gears to some other task until inspiration hits.
That wasn’t the case this week. Before I ever booted up my laptop, I knew exactly what this column was going to be about.
I just really didn’t want to write it.
You probably saw publisher Fred Scheller’s note to readers on last Monday’s front page. If you missed it, here’s what it said in a nutshell.
Starting this week — tomorrow, April 27 — we won’t be publishing a Monday print edition of The Daily Item.
We’ll continue to have a print edition the other six days of the week. We’ll still have ongoing news updates on our website and we’ll still produce — even for Monday — what we call the “e-edition” — a digital facsimile of the print edition that subscribers can access on our website every day.
We’re making this change, quite simply, because we are among the many Valley businesses that have seen difficult losses during the coronavirus pandemic.
All you have to do is look at an average edition, and you’ll see there are far fewer advertisements than usual because so many businesses have needed to close as part of the effort to mitigate this virus.
In order to keep our business sustainable under those circumstances, we’ve had to find ways to cut back. As has been the case for many others, we’ve had to, at least temporarily, furlough some staff members. In part, in order to avoid further such reductions, we’ve had to turn to our other major expense — the printing and delivery of the newspaper.
It’s frustrating. We know how many of you look forward to getting The Daily Item delivered to your door. Plus, we have been working so hard these past two months, with so much important news to report and so many people turning to us for needed local information. Our web page traffic has never been more robust.
But the print product is expensive to produce. As the newspaper industry has continued to evolve toward digital, many newspapers long ago reduced their number of print days. Even larger newspapers like The Patriot-News in Harrisburg reduced print publication to three days.
Until the financial setbacks of the past two months, we’d been steadfast in continuing to print seven days a week. Had the pandemic not happened, we planned to continue to do that for the foreseeable future.
But under the current circumstances, this decision had to be made.
Thanks to a loyal subscriber audience and advertisers who have remained a huge part of our success, we have continued to be a strong business.
My hope is, as I did recently in announcing the return of some comics and other features to the newspaper as a newsprint shortage subsided, that one day in the future I’ll be writing about cool new things coming to your local print newspaper and not about cutbacks.
For now, I hope you’ll understand the difficulties we, like so many other Valley businesses, are facing. I hope you will take advantage of our online offerings. And, most of all, I hope you’ll stay healthy and safe and hang in there with us as we continue to work to keep you informed.
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