April 19, 2009

The news is all about the news

We've been on the road for the past fews weeks, so postings to the Black Hills Monitor have been scarce. Below, we're pleased to share with you a "guest editorial," penned a few weeks ago by Bill Kunerth, publisher of the Idaho State Journal and used here with his permission.

Last week’s announcement that the Rocky Mountain News was closing its doors put the newspaper business front and center in the media spotlight. In somewhat of a turnaround, the news was all about the news.

But while it’s a shame to see one of our brethren newspapers fall, especially one with such a storied past, it’s not the death knell of newspapers that some may think or predict. While large metropolitan newspapers are the most vulnerable due to large debt from recent acquisitions or challenges from competing in two newspaper cities, the community papers such as ours continue to be strong and steady.

At the Idaho State Journal, for example, our core circulation has actually increased the last five years.

We’re proud of this accomplishment and feel that a key to our success and circulation growth is our primary focus on local news. Look through our newspaper, and you’ll see that close to 70 percent of our news is locally generated. These stories run the gamut from bond elections to Boy Scout awards; our award-winning photographers capture everyday life in southeast Idaho; and our Opinion page provides an engaging and lively forum for our community.

Our niche is local news and we feel that no one covers southeast Idaho better than we do. And, we do it 365 days of the year.

What has changed, however is that we are continually devoting increased time and resources to producing a viable and engaging website. In a strategic decision made several years ago, we divided our website into two offerings. Instead of giving away the entire product, we decided to offer a free site and a paid site. The paid site offers readers the opportunity to subscribe to our online edition, which is an exact replication of the newspaper. The free site,
www.idahostatejournal.com, offers expanded news coverage through breaking news, photo galleries, community calendar, videos, blogs and reader comments. We also carry complete online state, national and international news and videos provided by the Associated Press.

Because readers know they can turn to our website for credible and continually updated information, we have become one of the most popular websites in eastern Idaho. And with the combination of print and online, we are actually reaching more people through both mediums than we ever did through just print.

So, yes our business is changing and due to the present economy some newspapers are going to fail, just like other types of media or businesses will, too.

But the newspapers that have positioned themselves as the source of local information and have viable print and online products will not only survive this recession, but will actually thrive.

That is why you, our reader, can have tremendous confidence that your hometown newspaper, the Idaho State Journal, will always be an important and integral part of your daily life.
Bill Kunerth is publisher of the Idaho State Journal.

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