Using our space to serve our readers

  • Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A community newspaper is an unusual animal. Where a daily newspaper has seven issues each week in which to spread its offerings, a community newspaper has one or maybe two issues.

Our goal, as a community newspaper, is to best serve our readers, ensuring they get all the news and community events, know what is happening in our schools, in our government. To do this, we must use our limited space wisely.

A newspaper is a business, like any other, and in order to survive, must pay for itself. Advertising pays the bills. The ratio of advertising to news space must be carefully balanced.

In reviewing our use of space, we discovered that over time, we used more and more space for opinion than for news and events. Giving our readers timely news is our first priority.

Further, in reviewing our columnists, we realized the majority were not being paid. However, a few were. This, we realized, was unfair. Nor was it in line with community newspapers that rarely have the luxury of paying columnists.

We saw we were leaving out news and events in order to accommodate columns. While columns are interesting, fun and enlightening, they are mostly one person’s perspective.

Therefore, last week, we wrote to each of our contributors.

We didn’t “fire” any of them. We didn’t tell them we would not run their columns.

We explained that we would no longer be paying for columns, as it was unfair to those who wrote (and had been writing for years) for free.

We wrote that we valued the contribution our contributors made to the paper but that in order to serve our readers with a mix of news, events and opinion, we had to limit the number of words to 500. (500 words equals approximately 20 inches...twice as long as this editorial!)

Sadly, we have had a couple of our contributors tell us they would no longer write unless they are paid. We shall miss their contributions.

We encourage our readers to send us their news, celebrations, events. We encourage readers to share their opinions via our letters to the editor.

The more news we have, the more we fulfill our mandate. The more variety we have in each issue, the better we serve our community. And serving our community is why we are here.

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