Stop me if you’ve heard this: Things change.
To use an old journalism term, let me make sure that I do not “bury the lede.” The Gazette is making some changes to how we interact with our audiences, and the biggest change many will notice is that, like many other news organizations, we will begin to charge a small fee for our customers to access content on our website, TheGazette.com.
For a large number of our current five- to seven-day subscribers, nothing will change and you will continue to have access to the site at no additional charge. And all our current subscribers who don’t qualify for free access will receive a discounted rate as our way of showing appreciation for your support of the independent, local journalism we provide.
Reasons for change
The reasons that necessitate us moving to a paid digital model are many, and I won’t bore you with all of them. But I think it’s important to share the ones that were most important in shaping our decision to go down this path.
First, there’s the notion of treating our customers fairly. Our print subscribers have inordinately shouldered the costs of our newsroom delivering quality journalism to our community. While there certainly are differences in the online versus the print experience, much of the core news coverage is presented in both places. It is time that we ask our online audiences to help pay for the news and information that we work daily to provide.
Second, in order to maintain our commitment to quality journalism, we will continue to operate the largest newsroom in our area. This resource gives us the freedom to doggedly cover important issues that are vital on many levels, for a variety of reasons.
We spend a significant amount of money to cover things that other outlets don’t cover. We have exhaustive coverage of elections. We take the time to understand and research complex issues that otherwise would go unresearched. We delve deeply into stories that have local or regional impact. Sure, the big headlines get covered by everyone, including us. But it’s the smaller, harder-to-find stories in a community that wouldn’t get told if we weren’t here.
The online experience
And about that online experience. We are improving it. The media industry in general has implemented so many different digital advertising approaches that the user experience has degraded to the point of extreme frustration, and we were right there in the middle of it. There have been some extremely good advancements in some of the ad tech, but it was overdone.
Our new look on TheGazette.com will be much cleaner, much faster and much less obtrusive to get the information you are there to read or watch.
As with many other newspapers, readers will be able to access a few articles each month for free before hitting a limit. Upon reaching that point, readers still will be able to browse current headlines, and community sections such as Obituaries and Milestones will remain fully accessible.
We also will preserve the Green Gazette e-edition, an electronic copy of our printed newspaper, for those who enjoy the form and format of the traditional newspaper on a tablet or computer. That access won’t change.
TheGazette.com, however, will include deeper coverage, multimedia content, breaking news and interaction between the reader and our newsroom than we simply can’t offer within the limitations of a printed newspaper.
We are continuing, and have expanded, our Gazette Gives Back program to allow you to choose which nonprofits may receive free advertising in our products to support their missions in our community.
We also are revamping our Gazette Rewards program to increase the experiences and number of side benefits to subscribing to our publications.
We also have polled our subscribers about the topics they want us to cover more deeply, and you already may have noticed some new sections in our Sunday edition that respond to subscriber interests.
We thank you
In closing, I can speak for the more than 400 employee-owners of The Gazette and ColorWeb Printers when I say a big “thank you” for supporting the mission and work of journalism.
Independent, local journalism is difficult work that we love and are passionate about; but we could not do it without the ongoing commitment of our subscribers. We greatly appreciate your support and do not take your time and attention for granted.
Please know that we are working hard every day to not only get you the information you need, but to continuously improve how we do that and what we deliver to you every day.
President, The Gazette