editorial

Welcome to the new River Reporter

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 5/13/20

For the River Reporter, a small, independently owned newspaper, being forced to think about the changes we face in our shifting landscape has its benefits.

This is not a new situation. Industry …

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editorial

Welcome to the new River Reporter

Posted

For the River Reporter, a small, independently owned newspaper, being forced to think about the changes we face in our shifting landscape has its benefits.

This is not a new situation. Industry has been reporting that the newspaper model—where advertisers pay for the production of the paper so that readers could get their news in a very affordable manner—is dead.

This reality, that small businesses cannot foot the bill for local news, is readily understandable. As more and more people shop online, the local business model has been experiencing great disruption as well.

Now, enter the pandemic. Everything is in flux.

Here at the River Reporter, staff has not worked in the building—besides production manager Amanda and I—for eight weeks now. With each passing week, this new reality of not being able to function in a common space opens a different kind of imagining. We are well beyond the anguish of “Oh dear, the business model is failing,” to realizing that now is the time to innovate a new model. And working remotely, not having a common office, offers opportunities. Last week, I canceled three of our six phone lines.

So, it is great timing, in one sense, that the regional printing press in Middletown, NY is closing its doors. Gannett Media has made the business decision to consolidate its commercial printing to one gigantic facility in Rockaway, New Jersey. 

We are part of 120 local and regional newspapers that are no longer being printed in Middletown. (As an aside, the River Reporter was first printed in the Union Gazette building in Port Jervis, NY. The Union Gazette was a Port Jervis daily. The paper was closed, and the press moved to Middletown in the 1980s.)

Now with this closure, the River Reporter will be printed on a much larger and more sophisticated press. Our deadlines have moved up a whole day, and we have worked for the last several weeks to change our schedule. (You will notice that weekly deadlines for letters to the editor have changed from Monday to Sunday. In fact, all deadlines have moved up.)

We anticipate color to be well registered—we will no longer see a yellow shadow on many of our advertisements and photos. And the size of the paper has become longer and a little bit narrower.

We had two choices on sizes: we could have gone smaller or larger. We opted for larger, as the print bill will be so much larger and the price difference between the larger size and the smaller size was quite minimal.

You might have noticed that we have dropped, with a little trepidation from me, the “The” in the River Reporter. Well, at least we have stopped bolding and capitalizing it. We do this because we are integrating and differentiating more thoughtfully our print paper and online edition. With this differentiation, we are consolidating into one name, River Reporter, and one logo.

And while it took a couple of weeks of staring reality in the face—increased printing costs and a tighter weekly deadline—we are excited for the potential.

It is a time of invention and innovation.

It is a changed landscape. And in this landscape, newspapers, local newspapers, have never—ever, ever—been more important and more universally supported.

We are happy to be in this landscape with you and to explore the reimaginings that are in store for us all.

Laurie Stuart began working at the River Reporter in 1978. She is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and sees her newspaper work as a ministry in inclusive community.

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Karen MG

Congratulations! Change is hard, constant, and usually a good thing.

Wednesday, May 20