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Red-hot inflation – the highest rate in four decades – accelerated to 8.5% in March. Everything from food to clothing to gasoline has escalated markedly in price.
Just as inflation affects our readers, subscribers, and the businesses that advertise with us, economic volatility and the sharp upward movement of prices likewise affect the newspaper.
Because we print, package, and distribute, then offer for sale a new issue of the paper every day, our business is as much about manufacturing, as it is about the outstanding service provided to the community by our journalists.
The cost of every step in the printing process has skyrocketed. The price of paper is now 45% more than in December 2020. Since last May, the light-sensitive aluminum plates used on our press to transfer text and images to paper have climbed 18%, ink is up 13%, the cost of labor has soared by 25%, and, of course, gasoline has increased nearly 40%.
Printing and delivering the Delaware State News seven days a week is an ever-more expensive undertaking.
Even if these costs magically diminished, we still must recognize the unavoidable truth that the proliferation of smart mobile phones and the Internet have now profoundly and irreversibly changed how news and information is reported and shared.
Digital communication is ascendant and becoming more prevalent, but print is assuredly not dead. People continue to subscribe, buy, and read the Delaware State News. Yet, many others are also opting to become members of our online community at BayToBayNews.com, and still others choose to sign-up for one of our free email newsletters, like Daybreak.
We are genuinely grateful for every subscriber and reader, whether in print or online, and we thank each of you for your extraordinary loyalty, for sticking with and supporting the newspaper and its digital media as they have evolved through the years.
For any business or organization to remain relevant and viable, deliberate evolution is necessary, and come July, the State News will take two more significant steps in this continuous process.
First, to save on the extravagant cost of paper, the newspaper will be printed with a smaller page size as of July 1. The depth of the page will go from about 15 inches to about 12 inches.
Further, after conducting an extensive analysis of both advertising sales and purchases of single copies, we have concluded that our costs on Saturdays and Mondays far outweigh our revenue.
So, the second step will switch the frequency of the paper from seven to five days a week. The new schedule will start July 1, when the paper will be printed and distributed Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
The decision to downscale print is a very carefully considered, long-term, proactive plan to push our evolution into a more digitally focused organization, with a top-quality, affordable print product five days a week. We believe our work as journalists is of the utmost importance to our community, and our aim is to make certain our vital work continues long into the future.
The new schedule will allow us to produce a better, more community focused newspaper. Our award-winning journalists will double-down on their efforts to offer indispensable coverage of our area by concentrating on original initiatives and reporting. Our reporters and editors are singularly committed to producing stories that count, based on practicing high-integrity, non-partisan, independent journalism.
With more time, we can dig deeper into stories and issues that matter the most. And, as always, we will continue to spotlight those in our community who are dedicated to helping others and improving life in Delaware.
To accompany these content and format changes, we will simultaneously introduce a simpler, more attractive, modern newspaper design that is fun to read and easier on the eyes.
Publishing five days per week will immediately help to relieve the tremendous burden and pressure on our business caused by the price of paper. Our two biggest expenses have always been people and paper. Reducing the cost of paper means we can maintain and, as warranted, increase staffing.
Our newsroom currently consists of 17 staffers, the most we have had in the last 10 years, and we intend to add more reporters and journalists. With our website – BayToBayNews.com – our social media channels, and 10 free email newsletters, we fully intend to publish more news and information than ever before.
Another positive consequence of these changes is, amid our inflationary times, you will not see a rise in your subscription rates. The cost for a seven-day print subscription to the Delaware State News varies, depending on your plan, from $21.99 monthly to $257.99 annually, making our home-delivery rates among the lowest in the entire nation.
If we were to continue publishing seven days a week – and to keep pace with mushrooming costs – subscription rates would, at the least, need to triple. So, rather than raise the cost of a subscription, the rate will remain the same even after we transition to five days a week.
As part of the transition and as added value, each paying subscriber will receive free access to our eEdition, the online digital replica of the Delaware State News, for as long as their subscription continues, along with a free one-year membership to BayToBayNews.com.
Updated continuously with the very latest news, BayToBayNews.com covers all of Delaware as well as Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
We are only the stewards of the newspaper and its digital media; these products ultimately belong to you, our readers and advertisers. For that reason, we invite your comments and emails. To facilitate your communicating with us, we have set up a special telephone hotline you can call to leave us a voice mail. The telephone number is (302) 608-0062. Or you can email us at email@example.com.
In the coming days, we will be providing more specifics on logistics and our coverage plans – as well as responding to your comments and voice mails and answering your questions about our plans.
Darel La Prade is group publisher for INI Delmarva. Besides the Delaware State News and BayToBayNews.com, the group includes three weekly newspapers in Maryland, a fourth weekly in Delaware, and three monthly newspapers that cover Smyrna, Milford, and Georgetown-Millsboro.