Over the last few years, we’ve made a series of changes to the printed edition of the Sun Herald that didn’t really go over well with readers.
I’m humble enough to admit it.
I’ve talked to many readers on the phone and in person. I’ve read your Sound Offs comments and passionate emails. And what I heard is you want more beef to the paper, in both content and number of pages.
So here’s what we are doing to make things right.
Over the last few months, we assembled a task force of newsroom personnel, marketing executives and circulation leaders who are on the front lines of delivering your paper and managing your subscription.
We surveyed and interviewed readers. Then our group talked about what we learned. Rarely was the feedback about the quality of journalism the Sun Herald produces. The biggest issue we heard was that readers wanted back things we had taken away over the years as we moved news and information from the paper to our website.
So I am happy to announce that we have added more pages back to the newspaper. It will vary by day, but there’s one exciting bonus: No more one-section papers.
On the content front, you’ll notice on this page we’ve brought back two items readers have missed: the “Dear Annie” advice column and the crossword puzzles from Eugene Sheffer and Thomas Joseph. The advice column will run every day, and the two new crossword puzzles will run Monday through Saturday. Crossword fans let me have it when we stopped running the Sheffer and Joseph puzzles. I hope their return makes you happy.
What else will we do with the new space? Print more news, the foundation of our business. News in the newspaper is a good thing, as it’s been since we began publishing in 1884.
The task force was the idea of one of our new higher-ups from McClatchy, our corporate parent. This person came in to assess the situation and encouraged us to make these changes. Thankfully, this person understands the value of our newspaper to the community.
We’ve certainly had our share of news in South Mississippi of late, and the Sun Herald newsroom has provided quality coverage of events such as the recent election, the lingering effects of the Bonnet Carre spillway opening and a looming mental health crisis in South Mississippi. We also have Patrick Magee, our award-winning sports writer who is one of the few full-time journalists now covering athletics at the University of Southern Mississippi.
While we want to be fair to our print readers, none of these changes alter our belief that the newspaper business is changing rapidly, and that how we present ourselves online and on smart phones will determine our long-term success. Digital access is a part of your print subscription and I encourage you to check it out. We can simply reach far more people in the digital world than through any form of printed media. And, last year our company took in more in digital advertising revenue than print advertising revenue. That’s an encouraging sign.
In the meantime, know that we value our long-time print readers and those who love the newspaper dearly. And know that we heard you and your complaints. That’s the reason we took these actions. In short, you matter to us.
Blake Kaplan is the Sun Herald’s executive editor and general manager. Want to share a thought about this column? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org