It has been said, “When you are through changing, you are through,” and this is a time of great change in the media industry, particularly for print newspapers. In 59 B.C., Julius Caesar ordered the daily posting of a publication called Acta Diurna (Daily Events in English) throughout Rome.
Today — 2,000 years later — in less than one generation, information that was traditionally delivered by print newspaper became available online at work, then online at home, then through hand-held mobile devices and now through cell phones that also play music, download movies, surf the Web and provide real-time driving directions.
While our core commitment to providing comprehensive and unparalleled local content is our highest priority, our greatest challenge is providing it in a manner that’s valuable to our readers and advertisers as well as economically viable for our company. How do we make a product that, at its essence, has not changed in 2,000 years relevant to the Internet age?
The short answer is change.
We modify our publications to reflect changes in readership trends as well as changes in our reader, advertiser and community demographics. We modify our delivery methods to reflect both the awesome power of the Internet and the commercial realities of producing, printing and delivering thousands of newspapers to thousands of households throughout dozens of communities in the metropolitan Chicago area.
Sometimes these changes are simply operating adjustments made to address our escalating costs, and sometimes these changes are intended to take advantage of the almost limitless opportunities presented by technological advancements.
Sometimes our changes do not work out quite as we intended. A few weeks ago, we altered the print content of the Reporter/Met to include news from surrounding communities. The format changes resulted in hundreds of calls and e-mails from our readers, with virtually all of these messages informing us — some in fairly blunt terms — that the reformatted Reporter/Met did not meet your standards for local news, sports and events coverage.
On reflection, we think you were right. Starting today, we believe you will find the Reporter/Met more useful, relevant, enjoyable and — most importantly — decidedly, unapologetically local. Our weekly print publication will offer in-depth, highly relevant local coverage and editorial content that you cannot get anywhere else.
In recognition that we live in a 24-hour world, we are focusing our Web site on up-to-the-minute and late-breaking local news — in addition to most of the articles and other information available in our print publication.
As part of our commitment to continually updated local news, we launched our mobile journalist initiative not long ago. As part of this program, our reporters are equipped with wireless laptop computers, video recorders and cameras so they can produce content from anywhere and display content in many new forms. The program allows us to report and display “real news right now” on our Web site, which may be vital, important, interesting or entertaining to you. Our reporters are featured in every issue (on the left hand side of this page), and they can be spotted throughout Lemont covering interesting things going on around town.
We hope our mix of print and online delivery empowers each of you to view our publications at a time and through a medium that is convenient for you.
In return for our commitment to the community, we ask you to consider a few small commitments to the Reporter/Met, as well. Providing a quality local newspaper is only possible if we can generate revenues sufficient to cover the costs of gathering information, writing stories, printing papers and delivering papers. If you like the Reporter/Met, or even if you don’t like the Reporter/Met but believe a quality community newspaper is vital, send in the subscription offer on Page 7 of today’s paper or call (630) 368-1144. Tell local merchants that you noticed their advertisements in the paper, and ask local merchants whose advertisements you do not see why they are not advertising in the community paper.
We were gratified to find out that the community needs us, but we need the community, too.
In the coming months, you will be seeing more changes and innovations in the pages of the Reporter/Met and mysuburbanlife.com. Let us know what you think.
Publisher, Suburban Life Publications