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COLUMN: Further explaining changes to newspaper frequency

We’re not breaking any news when we say that every business in our community — no matter how large or small — has felt the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, some of them have closed their doors entirely, although we hope most of those decisions are temporary. Others have suspended operations, and every business has had to change the way it’s serving its customers.

That includes us at The LaGrange Daily News.

On Saturday’s front page, we wrote about our own difficult decision, which was to publish two printed editions each week instead of five. Our e-edition will still be produced five times a week, as it is now, and is a digital replica of the newspaper. To be clear, we’re also still committed to providing the same amount of news via our e-edition, printed editions, social media and website.

Our goal is to be as transparent with our community and customers about this as possible, and the truth is that printing and delivering a daily newspaper is an expensive undertaking. Local advertising — promoting businesses and events in our community — is the catalyst for the published newspaper, and unfortunately, the current business climate has led to less advertising as businesses adjust.

We aren’t the only newspaper in this boat. Thousands of newspapers have made their own difficult decision over the last few weeks. Other papers have reduced their print publication days, terminated or furloughed employees, cut employee compensation or some combination of all of those. Reducing print frequency allows us to keep our staff employed and compensated during this difficult time.

We appreciate all of our subscribers and everyone who has been reading our complimentary COVID-19 coverage on our website. The LDN had a record-breaking March in website visitors and is on pace to continue that in April. Unfortunately, all of those page views don’t add up to much, so we encourage anyone who likes what they’ve read to consider a subscription. And to our loyal subscribers, we thank you for continuing to support our product.

I’m sure there are many questions, so I’ll do my best to answer some of those below:

 

Will you charge me less for my subscription? Subscription prices are staying the same, as we are providing the same number of editions and the same amount of news, if not more. The only change is that three editions a week will be via our e-edition rather than in a printed format.

Is the change permanent? These changes were in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once this crisis is over, we will reevaluate the way we serve you in print. It’s difficult to know when things will return to “normal” but know that we are always looking at ways to better serve readers.

Have you sought government or other external support? Our application was among the first submitted last week for the Payroll Protection Program, part of the most recent federal stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. The program consists of forgivable loans to keep small businesses afloat and employees on the payroll. Like hundreds of thousands of other small businesses in this country, we eagerly await word on our application. We were also blessed to be announced this week as the recipient of a $5,000 grant from Facebook to support our reporting on COVID-19. That money will directly support our journalists as they work to deepen our readers’ understanding of the pandemic and its many societal and economic impacts.

Will you enhance your digital offerings? Yes. With the e-edition, we have the freedom to expand our newspaper beyond the number of pages you would typically see. We’re excited about those options and plan to add quality content not currently available via our print edition. For instance, we have had to limit the number of sports pages on certain days due to how much COVID-19 coverage we’ve had. That will not be necessary via the e-edition, which will also allow for more photo pages.

Who can I talk to about this for additional questions? Feel free to contact me. You can email me at daniel.evans@lagrangenews.com or leave a message at (706) 884-7311. We are working remotely as we try to do our part to social distance, but I plan to be active on email and social media to answer questions, and I will also be checking messages frequently.