Tricounty News

Adaptability is the name of the game

I've learned a lot in these past ten years as publisher and editor of the Tri-County News. About our communities. About myself. About the newspaper business, and about business in general.

The one thing that I know is essential, especially these days, is the ability to roll with the punches and to adapt as needed.

In the past year, several giants in the publishing world (century-old newspapers and popular magazines) go out of business. Many more are teetering on the brink. It's not that newspapers and magazines are losing their usefulness, but the way giant newspapers and media chains have been run for decades may be outdated.

Community newspapers have hung on strongly, even in the turbulent economic times in which we live, for a number of reasons:

• We're small and easily can adapt to market needs, new technologies, and a fluctuating economy. Think of us as the limber, small guy on the football field who can dodge and run circles around the behemoths out there.

• Most of us are independently owned and not just a cog in a corporate wheel. We're not here at the whims of a chain that governs what we can and cannot do. And no one else is going to sell us off or close us overnight.

• Nobody can do local news like local newspapers.

Community newspapers are still here because we're still relevant, and still needed.

But we have to stay limber, learn new tricks, and adapt. Fortunately, learning new tricks is kind of my specialty.

The Tri-County News has been on-line as long as I've been involved with it. We've recently made a commitment to do it even bigger and better, serving both our readers and our advertisers in ways we're still learning about.

You may notice that the Tri-County News is running a little leaner each week too; this week's an exception. The reality is that advertising drives content in newspapers; in other words, the space we sell to advertisers pays for the remaining space for the stories, photos, and other content our readers love. As advertising space shrinks, so does the space for everything else. (Subscription dollars help to pay for postage for delivery of the newspaper each week, but not for printing or for the content in the paper.)

So, the Tri-County News is adapting yet again, with a well thought-out experiment that we hope benefits us all.

Starting in 2010, the Tri-County News on the third Thursday of each month will be sent out to everyone in the area, just as this week's paper was.

We're hoping that this will be a win-win-win proposition:

• Advertisers win because their message reaches more people.

• Readers win because they get thicker papers with more to read.

• Our award-winning newspaper can broaden our financial base to help secure a sound future for us and the communities we serve.

Because we are independent, we're on our own to try new things and make necessary adjustments and changes. We don't have the safety net of a big corporate media outlet. We have something much better: strong, thinking readers and advertisers.

We welcome your comments and your support in this venture. Send us your notices (and ads!) for the next saturation issue, which will be the third Thursday of January (Jan. 21).

In the meantime, Merry Christmas. We hope you enjoy this special Christmas issue of the Tri-County News. (And don't forget that a subscription is a great and easy gift idea!)

And let's all hope for a happy, safe, and prosperous 2010!