Welcome to the new Press & Journal
I've penned a lot of thank-yous in my career. This one may be my most important.
The Press & Journal has just finished one of the most comprehensive transformations in our 163-year history: the redesign of every one of our print and digital publications, which subsequently prompted profound soul-searching to meet our many challenges.
Should we channel more resources into our print edition (which provides the lion’s share of revenue) or invest more in the paper’s digital editions? The future of journalism is in the world of websites and apps, not newsprint according to the digital media prophets. Fact is — consumers are consuming more news today than ever before. But how do we keep the doors open when digital investments provide only a fraction of total revenues?
If this newspaper ceased publishing tomorrow, who has the most to lose? The answer is that there would be a tremendous vacuum; for readers and public officials who depend on the newspaper to be a credible and comprehensive source of news and information; for advertisers who depend on the newspaper to connect them with local consumers; and for vendors and our 30-plus employees who rely on the newspaper for income.
I don’t believe newspapers are on the path to obsolescence but on one that will necessitate delivering news and information in lots of different ways. I don’t accept that citizen journalism will emerge as a substitute for what community newspapers do best: telling accurate, compelling stories with context and consistency.
What lies ahead for us (and all mainstream media organizations) almost certainly includes immense risks — the toughest will be the transition period. I have 100 percent confidence we will survive.
So, how are we meeting the challenges? The Press & Journal’s publications are evolving, but we definitely aren't going away, nor will our need to continually learn, listen and reinvest.
We recognized the persistent points of pain and frustration with pressandjournal.com. Section navigation tools are now user-friendly across multiple platforms — meaning it looks good on your computer, your tablet and your phone.
Subscribers will continue to support the biggest share of Press & Journal’s online content (though some content will still be free) and those subscribers will be rewarded with timelier, expanded coverage. We are now able to make website changes at the true pace of breaking news with additional content and features that give us more opportunities to contribute and interact with our community. Starting March 15, we will have what’s known as a metered website. You’ll be able to read two articles free per week after which you will be prompted to either subscribe to our new digital edition, to our traditional print edition or to both.
We’ve also hit the ground running with our print product. Nearly everything about the way the newspaper looks has changed.
One of the most obvious changes, as you’ve probably already noted, is our new masthead, our first in 30 years. Our layout, created under the guidance of industry experts Creative Circle Media, is meant to be easier to read but most importantly, more useful and relevant.
You will notice the absence of some features most notably Sound Off. Let me say that we weighed the numerous comments voiced to us about Sound Off as well as the possible repercussions of its retirement. And at the end of the day we believe the reasons to eliminate it far outweigh the benefits of keeping it. How will you react to this? We really don’t know but we will listen and note your affirmation or criticism about this decision.
So, what hasn’t changed? The same commitment we've always had to provide up to date and accurate community news. This newspaper is one that values journalism and believes in public service.
It will take vision and a willingness to accept risks and some failures, but we plan on being here for a very long time. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Press & Journal readers and advertisers. You have given us the support to embrace our past while looking forward to the future. I want you to know how grateful I am that we are still together.
Joe Sukle is publisher of the Press & Journal.