As newspapers around the country face deep cuts and make their own headlines, local papers are trying to save jobs and trees.
This was the second week The Enterprise didn’t show up anyone’s doorstep, instead appearing online only as part of a new circulation policy aimed at saving money.
Debbie Davis, editor and assistant publisher of The Davis Enterprise, said The Enterprise hopes their recent decision will help avoid more severe measures. The move to an only online edition on Mondays will save The Enterprise $125,000 a year in newsprint, ink and delivery costs.
“We are trying to cut costs and save as many jobs as we can,” Davis said. “We want to cut costs while maintaining integrity.“
The decision to cut Mondays was based on many factors. Davis said Monday was the lightest day for advertising, news and sports. While other papers cover professional sports that happen over the weekend, The Enterprise only covers local sports, which typically take place earlier in the week.
The Enterprise’s decision came just a few weeks after The California Aggie made a similar move with its Friday edition. While the timing was coincidence, the decision reflects the current situation of newspapers at large.
Recently the Hearst Corporation, which owns the San Francisco Chronicle, released a statement calling for dramatic cuts in cost, including reducing the number of employees. Frank A. Bennack, Jr., vice chairman and chief executive officer of Hearst Corp., and Steven R. Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, said if significant cuts are not made quickly, Hearst will be looking for a buyer or even shutting the Chronicle down.
Jon Gold, managing editor of The Aggie, said the decision not to print on Fridays also stemmed from low advertising on that day.
“We still wanted students to be able to get the news, and online seemed like a good compromise,” Gold said.
The savings are important when the industry is facing challenges from many directions. Gold said raising money while maintaining quality is the biggest challenge papers face in the current economy.
“We are faced with double the problems when a declining economy affects advertisers and with the challenge of the Internet,” Davis said.
The Enterprise’s online edition on Mondays is now also free, unlike the other days, which require a subscription to view. Davis said The Enterprise is offering free news on Mondays to make access easier on those days. Still, The Enterprise will not likely offer all of its news for free any time soon.
“In general we are very comfortable with our policy of charging for the online edition,” Davis said.
Davis said that the print product is not given away for free, so the online edition shouldn’t be either. She said the publisher feels strongly about this and is not likely to change his mind, even if the free Monday edition is successful.
Davis said the website had more comments than usual on the first Monday the news was free. She also said while they do not have specific statistics this early, it seems like people are taking advantage of the online news.
“I have a sense from walking around talking to people that many people visited [the website] that maybe wouldn’t have,” she said.
Other Davis residents said they would prefer to get the paper in print, but recognized the problems the industry faces.
“I would like to get it [in print],” said Blake Temple, a Davis resident and Enterprise subscriber. “To have to go online is a hassle.“
Temple said he shared the feelings of NPR’s senior news analyst Daniel Schorr, who says the Internet allows for information to be shared without the same research and forethought of a newspaper.
“With newspapers shutting down, I find it kind of scary,” Temple said. “With a newspaper you know what you are reading is well thought out.“
Janet Collins, another Davis resident and Enterprise subscriber, said she has noticed the paper missing on Mondays, but has yet to make the effort to read it online. She said because the paper comes in the evening, she doesn’t read it the same way she reads the morning paper. Still, she said the Davis community will feel the change.
“I think people will miss the news,” Collins said. “You can’t look at the TV section or what happened that day.“
Dennis Vest, a Woodland resident who no longer subscribes to any newspapers, shared sentiments that show the conflict the newspaper industry faces.
“I like [newspapers],” Vest said. “I hope they stay around, but I don’t read them.“
Despite the challenges, Davis has confidence The Enterprise will still bring news to Davis for years to come.
“I believe we will be here,” Davis said. “We may look a lot different.“
ELYSSA THOME can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.