Southeast Missourian alters its publication cycle

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In an effort to manage costs without passing on substantial increases to advertisers and home subscribers, Jon K. Rust, publisher of the Southeast Missourian, announced today that the newspaper will suspend publication of its Saturday print edition, beginning Sept. 12.

According to Rust, the reduction in days does not mean a reduction in local news coverage.

"We are repackaging how we deliver local news over the weekend," Rust said. "Our readers will continue to receive the same level of local news in six days that we have been providing in seven. We will be expanding Friday's edition into a meatier Friday-Saturday edition."

According to Rust, regular features in the current Saturday edition will move to either the Friday or Sunday editions of the newspaper, which will be expanded. Breaking news will continue to be reported online at semissourian.com with more comprehensive follow-up print stories and enterprise reporting to run in the Sunday edition.

Obituaries that would normally be printed Saturday will now be placed online by noon Saturday and then published in the Sunday Southeast Missourian. Friday night local sports will be covered in-depth both online as it happens and in the Sunday edition.

"No one will miss any of our regular features, and print subscribers will continue to receive more comprehensive stories than those reading online," Rust said.

According to Rust, the decision to suspend the Saturday print edition comes at a time when media across the country are struggling because of the recession and the economic effect on advertising revenue.

"Advertising revenue helps subsidize the cost of a newspaper for the reader," Rust said. "With the struggles faced by core print advertisers, particularly auto dealers, real estate brokers and major box store retailers, we have been forced to cut operating costs significantly. But internal cost savings -- including wage freezes, management wage rollbacks and payroll reduction, all which have been implemented already -- can only go so far without impacting the quality of the news report, especially as other fixed costs rise."

Rust said the Southeast Missourian decided to suspend its Saturday edition, which is the smallest newspaper each week, as the best way to protect home subscribers and advertisers from rate increases. By repackaging the newspaper's local news presentation and eliminating one print edition, including distribution costs, Rust said subscribers would get the same level of local coverage they've always enjoyed without having to pay more.

"During a down economy, we elected not to burden our advertisers and subscribers, who are already dealing with countless increases in their own lives," Rust said. "Current subscribers will have their expiration dates extended so they will receive the same number of issues they originally paid for."

Rust said he was confident advertisers and readers will understand and appreciate the Southeast Missourian's efforts to keep home subscription and advertising rates at their current levels.

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