RED WING -- The Republican Eagle will transition to publishing once a week beginning Aug. 1.
While the company will continue to publish content online daily, the physical paper will be published Saturdays. This cost-saving measure comes amid economic challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic — a reality facing newspapers across the country, Publisher Neal Ronquist said.
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Today's announcement comes on the heels of similar announcements across Forum Communication Co.
"We're hopeful that this is going to be a model that will provide some stability for local journalism," Ronquist said.
While print publication days are changing, an emphasis is being placed on online content. Ronquist explained:
“We continue to invest in our digital products and the digital experience for our readers. This includes publishing an e-paper, a digital replica, of the Republican Eagle two times per week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We anticipate the e-papers will have more, and unique, content than the Saturday print version," he said.
Subscription costs will remain the same. It's justified, Ronquist said, because the costs associated with creating, designing and laying out the paper will stay the same, and the Republican Eagle was already charging lower-than-average subscription rates.
The pandemic expedited the inevitable transition to print, Ronquist said. Pre-pandemic, the Republican Eagle was facing revenue challenges due to decreasing advertising, as well as decreases in print subscribers as the organization shifted its focus to digital readership.
Online traffic has also grown at quicker rates since the start of the pandemic, so the changes are following audience habits, he said.
"Unfortunately, what's occurred is that the pandemic has accelerated the timeline of that transition. What may have been a transition of years has all of a sudden translated into days," Ronquist said.
When making the decision to decrease publishing days, he said company executives considered the profitability of each day of publishing — as not all days are profitable — and looked for areas where efficiency could be improved. They modeled several different options, and found that shifting the Republican Eagle to a weekly publication with Saturday distribution made the most financial sense.
They also wanted to ensure the Republican Eagle was investing in content, marketing, technology and customer service. RE reporters will continue covering news seven days a week, which will be published online.
"The newspaper business has never been about the paper that the stories are printed on. That's merely been the delivery mechanism. It's always been about the stories of the community," Ronquist said.