Paper expanding coverage, size

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

Norm Schaab of Suffolk made an observation in a letter to the editor in Thursday’s News-Herald that I think warrants some elaboration on my part.

He noted that it appears the newspaper is getting bigger. It is. Here’s why.

Small newspapers such as the News-Herald have a difficult time balancing the need to give our readers the best newspaper we can afford to, and making money.

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A newspaper’s biggest expenses are labor and paper. Costs can get away from you quickly if you do not tightly control your newsprint consumption. You do that by making sure your newspaper has the proper proportion of free news space to paid advertising space. It’s a delicate balance and if you go too far in one direction or the other, it can drive profits down, or drive readers away, neither of which is desirable.

We just completed a study of our product over the last few months, which confirmed our suspicions that we had been putting out a paper that was far too &uot;tight&uot;

(Not enough pages to accommodate the amount of paid advertising space).

In response we’ve been developing a plan to open the News-Herald up, which will allow us to provide more local news.

The first step was a no-brainer. We simply mandated that we would have at least one full page of sports each day. We feel sports is so important to our mission – being the best source for local news – and that more news featuring the accomplishments of our youth will be a great way to drive readership – parents and grandparents like to have lots of copies of that stuff on hand.

You can’t just add one page to your newspaper though because every page has a back. So by enshrining a full sports page in our product every day, we automatically went up two pages. This is what Mr. Schaab was referring to, I think, in stating that it appeared the paper was getting bigger.

We are not stopping there. Another area where we feel there is opportunity for the News-Herald to better serve the needs of the community is in lifestyle news – weddings, engagements, club news, advice columns, feature stories on everyday home-centered topics. This will be coming soon. We’re adding more than paper to do this. We’ll also be adding personnel.

Of course, these changes are all eating into the paper’s bottom line, but we are looking on it more as an investment than an expense. We think increased readership and accompanying advertising revenue will more than offset the costs.

As we work toward growing the News-Herald in the coming months, we also will likely make some changes in the appearance and layout of the paper to accommodate the new content. I’ve tapped a couple of smart, creative people within our organization to help with this.

These were just a couple ideas we came up with to improve the paper. If you have an opinion on the paper’s content – what you would like to see more of, less of, not at all, etc. – please let me know. I can be reached at 934-9611 or at

And by the way, thanks, Mr. Schaab, for noticing the change.