Newsprint tariffs seen as major factor in decision
Late last week, I sent an email to KPA members that the Winchester Sun was ceasing its Monday edition, beginning August 20. Turns out The Sun was just one of three Boone Newspaper dailies making a similar announcement. However, it is important to note that the decisions were made by local management, not by Boone Newspapers, and left to the publishers — Steve Stewart for the State Journal and Mike Caldwell for the Winchester Sun and Advocate Messenger.
The Frankfort State Journal and the Advocate Messenger in Danville joined ranks with The Sun and cited consistent reasons for moving to Tuesday through Saturday issues. I’ll use the story posted Thursday afternoon on the State Journal’s website with similar stories used for The Sun and the The Advocate Messenger, especially because of the first “major factor” in the decision — the newsprint tariffs that has increased newsprint costs in recent months.
“Two major factors led to the decision.
“First, substantial new tariffs on Canadian newsprint have resulted in nearly a 30 percent increase in the cost of printing the newspaper. The newsprint used to print the newspaper is The State Journal’s second-largest operating expense, behind salaries and benefits for employees.
“Second, readers increasingly use The State Journal’s website for more timely access to information about what’s going on in Frankfort and Franklin County. More than 6,000 people visit State-Journal.com daily, reflecting a growing consumer preference for online news. The change in print frequency will allow The State Journal to invest additional time developing its digital news offerings, including regular video and audio content.
“As readers have moved to the web for an increasing amount of their news consumption, we will match that demand by investing our staff’s energy and time into developing quality digital offerings in addition to continuing to publish a printed newspaper five days a week,” Managing Editor Josh Bergeron said.
“The State Journal will continue to provide daily news coverage around the clock on its website, State-Journal.com, where coverage of weekend events and breaking news as well as our regular Monday feature “Get to Know” will be published without interruption.
“The subscription price of the printed newspaper, which has remained the same for many years while inflation has raised the cost of other goods and services, will remain unchanged at $12 a month. Print subscribers get a complimentary digital subscription, which includes access to the e-edition, a replica of the daily print edition that can be viewed on any computer, smartphone or tablet. A digital-only subscription is available for $4.95 a month, a special discounted price that is available for a limited time.
“Elimination of the Monday edition will allow our staff to focus more precisely on producing a quality community print newspaper on the days readers and advertisers have proven matter to them most,” said State Journal Publisher Steve Stewart. “It also allows our news staff and sales team to invest more time and energy in development of our digital publishing products, which continue to grow rapidly in use by our readers and advertisers.
“Over the last decade particularly, some newspaper readers have migrated from print newspapers to newspaper websites for their primary news source. Community newspapers, such as ours, are fortunate because we continue to have a healthy print newspaper audience, but reading habits have changed, too. Ours is the only media company in the community that employs journalists and top marketing professionals. So we are fortunate that as media has evolved, the combination of print and digital reading and marketing preference aligns perfectly with the skills and know-how of our staff. Making this move positions our company to continue to thrive as the dominant media outlet in Frankfort.”
The Advocate Messenger announcement included notice that the paper will no longer include TV listings and comics in color. The State Journal did not have TV listings and the comics were in black and while. The Sun also eliminated TV listings but did not produce color comics.