Categorized | Mike's Column, News

From the Publisher: Timing is everything in this game

Phew! The New Year is here and so are we.

That’s a good thing, depending on your perspective, I suppose.

There has been considerable tumult in the newspaper world, some care, some really give it no regard whatsoever. For obvious reasons, I tend to pay a bit of attention to these things.

There is no reason to go about what the Torstar-Metroland-Niagara This Week connection is up to. They have their cards to play after acquiring all the other newspapers in Niagara in that huge deal with Postmedia in late November.

It was just over two years ago I first noted in this space they would eventually go to one edition in Niagara West and close their Grimsby office to consolidate at its Thorold HQ. The latter would be instantaneous, in my humble opinion, should I ever cease to exist.

Even going once a week while NewsNow continues to inform (or annoy depending on your interests) the community is something they likely have preferred to delay, but their regional plan must have overshadowed a willingness to hold off.

Closing other long-time, popular papers like Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Advance and Fort Erie’s Times were also in play. More stuff reductions and belt tightening like cutting a press run and circulation costs in Grimsby made economic sense. For us, it suits us great.

Grimsby News started dying as a community favourite back when ads first went on the front page. Then that was followed by the wrap, sell the front page a few times for good measure, throw in a size shrinkage and you just have more dirt tossed on a shallow grave. But what my competitor has is pockets deeper than I could ever certainly hope to possess.

That big deal forced us to make our own changes to be sure, unpalatable as they may have been.

Our change was not to reduce service, press run, hours of operation, staffing or coverage. We will figure out a way.

To that end, part of a plan which was first considered back in 2014 when I contacted a series of friends from my newspaper association days: friends who operated programs for volunteer pay systems.

All were different. All had varying degrees of success.

However, all proved very strategic in preserving the end product and level of service to the communities they serve and that is exactly the goal is for NewsNow (if you have not checked the back page, you may want to do that and come back to this spot…I’ll wait….)

Back? Ok.

From the very first summer of Niagara West start-up Part Deux in 2012 we have had regular comments made in all forms about:

• how much people love the paper
• appreciate it is not a cookie cutter approach
• it is fiercely independent and not beholden to advertisers in any way
• the varied opinions stated
• it is ALL local copy
• It is not part of a flyer and ad onslaught with the vast majority of information irrelevant to local readers, and more

Simply, they like having us around.

And we want to stick around, honest we do. Why? Sometimes I think it is my own community newspaper-itis which will not allow me to give up on the community. I would be guilt-ridden until the end of my days. I am already for selling The News in the first place. I kick myself daily for that one.

But, here we are.

The main thing I want to stress is, as these things can get spun in wrong directions, a volunteer pay system is just that – volunteer.

Meaning if you get the paper but have no issue living without it and would rather not volunteer to pay anything, that is A-OK with me. We are happy to keep sending along NewsNow to your door with a smile each and every week.

Not paying anything will not change a single thing!!

Over the nearly six years we have been publishing, it would not be an exaggeration to say more than 1,000 people have made comments such as the one noted on Page 16 of this edition. Since early December it has been well over 250 if not closer 300 comments one way or the other.

Each and every one was immensely appreciated.

This all culminates in what you can read in that launch ad. There will be other special features built into that for those who would like them, such as a Breaking News Blast, which will go out directly to those who have volunteer pay subscriptions and provided their email address. In good time, though.

Questions? Just call the office or email any time:

mike@wn3.ca

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