Bruce Column March 29, 2009
These are difficult times for newspapers. Within the past month at least two large metropolitan newspapers in the western United States have gone out of business, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and the Seattle Post Intelligencer. I was in Colorado the day the Rocky Mountain News printed their last edition and watched with sadness as a television newscast chronicled the removal of the huge Rocky Mountain News sign from their Denver office building. It appears competing newspapers in large metropolitan areas are becoming a thing of the past. There simply isn’t enough revenue to support two newspapers in the big cities.
The newspapers in most cities big and small have a long tradition of serving their communities and most of them can trace their roots back to the mid to late 1800’s. Many of the big metro dailies can trace their roots back to the 1700’s and the early history of the country. Newspapers played a significant role in the founding of our country. The history of The Herald Journal goes back to 1879 when a little weekly newspaper called The Leader was born. The Leader eventually became the Utah Journal and then The Logan Journal. The Cache Valley Herald was born in 1925 as a competitor to the Logan Journal. The competition between the two newspapers was spirited and it soon became obvious that two newspapers couldn’t survive in Cache Valley. The two newspapers ended their competition with one another in 1931 when they combined into The Herald Journal and went from weekly to daily publication.
Since that time The Herald Journal has continued to change as the needs of Cache Valley have changed. Adding a Saturday edition, switching to morning delivery, and creating an Internet site, hjnews.com, are just three of the most significant recent changes that have helped The Herald Journal remain the dominant supplier of information to the people of Cache Valley.
The relatively recent development of the Internet as a source of information has had a huge impact on the way we do our business and will probably influence how we operate for years to come. When we began our website, hjnews.com, almost fifteen years ago we had no idea where it would end up. Since that time we have gradually shifted some resources from the newspaper to our Internet effort. One of the early dilemma’s we faced was whether or not we should make the entire Herald Journal available for free on the Internet. The choice we made, right or wrong, was to have both a free site and a paid site. The paid site offers the entire Herald Journal on line and looks just like the printed edition. Subscribers to the print edition have free access to the complete on-line edition. Those who don’t subscribe to the printed version can subscribe to the on line version. The free site, hjnews.com, doesn’t include the entire news report found in The Herald Journal. It doesn’t even look like a newspaper. It includes only a few local stories along with breaking news, photo galleries, blogs, videos, national and international news and videos by the associated press, a place where readers can comment on the news of the day, and of course advertising.
Because hjnews.com has been around for almost fifteen years in has become one of the most popular places people go to get credible information about Logan, Cache Valley, the nation, and the world. Between the newspaper with a paid circulation of 16,500 each weekday and almost 18,000 on Sunday and a website that attracts more than 6,000 visitors each day we are reaching more people than we ever did with just the print product. For this reason we remain an excellent choice for advertisers to reach all of their potential customers.
I’m often asked how the newspaper is doing in light of the recent economic downturn and the emergence of the Internet as a free source of news and information. My answer is that like most businesses we have to make adjustments and change as the media business changes. So, yes the newspaper business is changing. Right now we are in what has been called “The Perfect Storm.” We are being affected by two significant forces at the same time, the economic recession and the Internet. Fortunately over the years we have been willing to take advantage of new technology and have continued to position ourselves with the newspaper and our Internet efforts as the primary source of local information in Cache Valley. When the “Perfect Storm” subsides we are confident that both the newspaper and our Internet site will thrive.
When I graduated from college in 1963 and made it know to my parents that newspapers was going to be my life long work I’ll never forget my mom’s comment about my choice. She Said, “I guess there will always be a newspaper.” Moms are always right. We’ll make it through this “Perfect Storm” and will always be there to inform and entertain. Like many other businesses some newspapers are being forced to close their doors. Right now it’s a difficult time for everyone, but I’m convinced that there will always be a newspaper.