You will notice some changes in Sunday’s paper – at least, most of you will. They’re not big changes, and if we’ve done our homework, we will have added some things most of you will enjoy and taken away some things fewer of you will miss.
Time – and our phone lines – will tell.
A good newspaper needs to make changes from time to time to stay in step with its readers. Readers’ needs – and their tastes and reading habits – change over time.
Gauging which content to add or cut is difficult. An extensive readership survey we completed late last year helped us determine which kinds of stories have the most appeal and guided our decision-making.
We also must live within our budget. Ours, like most businesses, has been squeezed of late. We must decide which content is still worth the cost and which we should no longer spend money on. We are not reducing the number of pages in the newspaper, something we had to do earlier in the recession. We are rebalancing the mix – leaning toward more staff-written local content you can’t get anywhere else and reducing the amount of nationally syndicated copy.
No, we are not going out of business. We have remained profitable throughout the Great Recession and intend to stay that way. No, you are not the last person reading the newspaper. In fact, our Sunday circulation numbers have been rising and are about 3 percent higher than last year’s.
So, please join me in being excited about these additions to our lineup:
• The Adventure Section is back. Our research said readers want more local stories about hiking, biking, skiing, fishing and otherwise having fun outdoors. Thankfully, we have a strong Adventure team in reporters Craig Hill and Jeff Mayor. Beginning today, Adventure will front our SoundLife section every Sunday. A few years ago when we dismantled the section, we moved the Hike of the Week and other Adventure features to the Friday GO section. We’re pulling them back together on Sunday, but will still run an Adventure calendar in GO to help with your weekend planning. We also are expanding our definition of Adventure to include regional travel stories, Hill’s fitness column and other less-adventuresome activities that appeal to more readers. The section still will include books, travel, and the same puzzles and advice columnists, including our new Busy Mama column by Eatonville mom Lisa Pemberton, who writes every other Sunday (not this one).
• Get Out. Our research said readers want more information about local activities. Our new Get Out blog at thenewstribune.com provides up-to-the-minute news on entertainment in Western Washington. It’s where we will announce new concerts, or post info about Vicci Martinez on “the Voice,” or announce that a local poet has won a big national grant. Each day in the newspaper, we’ll run a short list of Get Out events for that day or week. Look for it on Page A2 beginning Monday.
• GO For Free. This new listing will run in Friday’s GO section. We cooked it up based on strong reader response after arts reporter Rosemary Ponnekanti spent the month of January experiencing a free event every day and writing about it.
Here’s what we’re trimming:
• Sunday stocks recap. Newspapers across the country have done away with stocks listings as people have gone to the Internet for that information (including our own website). Few readers have complained. We will continue the daily listing of local stocks in our Business section. We’ll use some of the newfound space for “Money Power,” a column about personal finance topics including savings and investing, college costs, retirement planning and taxes.
• Earthweek. This Monday A Section feature mapped the previous week’s natural disasters and other events. It took up a lot of room that we decided can be better used for news stories. You can still find the map at earthweek.com.
• Debbie Travis’ home decorating column. Our research said readers are more interested in food, wine and gardening, the other topics in our Wednesday SoundLife section, so we will use more of our space for those topics.
• Weather. Beginning today, we are trimming the size of the weather package to make more room for other news and advertising on that page. We removed the national weather map and trimmed the list of temperatures from around the world.
We’ve done our best to make good choices for you, but understand that our changes won’t please everyone. Feel free to let us know what you think.
Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434