We’re two weeks into our new format, and what a ride it has been.
When I started writing this column in 2020, I put a lot of thought into the name I was going to give it. I wanted to convey a sense of commonality, togetherness, shared experiences. Part of my reason for doing that was to try and humanize your local paper.
It’s really easy to read a bunch of words on paper or a screen and forget that a real, live person wrote them. I try to invoke — and evoke — a spirit of conversation in my columns, just two friends chatting over coffee. And in that vein, I like to try and give you a peek behind the proverbial curtain, a look at the things we experience so that you can have a deeper understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish here and how hard we’re working to do it.
And right now, friends, is a good time to refresh your coffee, because we’re about to have one of those chats.
I won’t lie. When I first heard about the changes that we were getting ready to make on July 29, I was scared. I was excited, too, but I was also scared. I didn’t know how it would be received, and I didn’t know if I could adjust effectively to the difference in workload.
Turns out, I didn’t need to be.
It hasn’t been without hiccups, but this change has been overwhelmingly well-received.
Sure, we’ve had a few folks very loudly declare their displeasure with the new format, and as our publisher Chris Herbolsheimer pointed out in his column last Saturday, some of them have been downright hateful and accusing us of acting nefariously.
But most of them? Most of you, I mean — most of you are giving us a whole lot of grace and cheering us on, because you understand the value of community journalism, and you know we’re here for the long haul.
A letter to the editor published on this page from one such supportive reader points all this out and more — with a little critique: We didn’t talk about the financial benefits we get from making this change.
Well, I can’t speak for Chris, but I can say for myself that, yeah, we do benefit from not having to print every day, and not having to mail out as many issues. But it’s really not a big financial boost. We’re not saving much. Because we are still putting up fully-built papers every day — with an added day — which means we have to pay a team of people to lay them out. Our print editions are full color and at least 20 pages — roughly double what they were before the change. Those costs aren’t insignificant, either.
We still have to pay for the online content management and the website itself, and that’s to say nothing of paying our sales and editorial staff who are working extended hours to make sure you get the news you want. Some days, we aren’t out of the office until after dark, and as the days are still on the longer side of the solstice, that’s saying something.
And we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Every one of us is here because we love the work we do and we take pride in it, and we love and take pride in our community.
And these last two weeks, it has been shown to us in a big, big way, how much that love and pride is reciprocated. From the businesses in our community supporting us in the transition with their advertising dollars to the customers who stand at our front desk and enthusiastically encourage one another to keep their subscriptions going; from the people who stop us on the street to compliment us to the readers who call us here at the office to say “thank you” for including something they didn’t expect to see — this support keeps us going strong on the hard days.
And we are so, so grateful to you.
Sure, there are a few complaints. We’ve had a few goofs. It’s to be expected, I think — this was a massive undertaking and we are, after all, human. I take our errors seriously but I’ve definitely quipped a few times, “Well, this is how you know your paper isn’t AI-produced.” We are real people, and we will goof — and every time we do, we’ll work extra hard to make sure that mistake doesn’t get made twice.
And goodness gracious, the grace you’ve given us to be able to do that really means the world to me.
Thank you, friend.
Did want a warmer for your coffee? Some cream or sugar?
It’s your turn. I want to hear from you, what’s happening in your life? How’s the family? How’s the neighborhood? Tell me everything. Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call, 417-256-9191.
Thanks for being a friend.