A change that is better for you
Over the years, our commitment to the citizens of Mid and South Jefferson County has been unwavering. It is our continued focus to deliver locally driven news to the readers of The Port Arthur News.
Today, we are announcing a change in our operation that would align us with more than 60 percent of local newspapers across the nation by having The Port Arthur News delivered to subscribers via the U.S. Post Office beginning with the Tuesday, Sept. 11th edition.
This decision was not taken lightly. Understanding the future of our industry and the needs of our customers was at its core.
When we first started this discussion in-house, I, as I know some of you feel, felt unsure about doing so. How will our readers respond to it? Will they feel the news is different when delivered by the USPS?
But the more I dug into the positive side of this potential move, the more comfortable I became with it. And ultimately, I believe this change will secure the financial future of The Port Arthur News for 10-15 years, if not longer.
And it will allow us to continue being the only true local news source for Mid and South Jefferson County.
Under our current distribution model, home delivery has been iffy at best. Some independent contractors are dependable and fantastic to work with. Others, not as much, resulting in poor service and frustrated customers. The move to use the USPS made sense as their mission statement states:
“ The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people.”
We do expect that some readers may be concerned with the fact that their mail is not delivered until later in the day, if they are used to receiving their subscription in the morning. To alleviate this concern, each paid subscriber will receive the Port Arthur News e-edition at no extra charge. All subscribers can sign up to receive the e-edition, which is an exact duplicate of the print edition, and have it sent directly to their email inbox every morning at 6:30.
Currently, The Port Arthur News has more than 300 e-edition subscribers who read each day’s publication online daily. Port Arthur Chamber President Bill McCoy says he can’t live without his.
Areas where we had previously stopped delivery due to increasing and prohibitive distribution costs will now be able to receive that subscription again. Adding areas such as Sabine Pass, Taylors Landing, Hamshire/Fannett and Bridge City will allow us to expand our reach and keep more citizens informed.
In addition, this move helps The Port Arthur News best match the printed newspaper’s frequency with changing reader trends of more people accessing news and information from its website on computers and mobile devices. The newspaper’s website, panews.com has more than 4 million page views yearly. And it is increasing every day.
Yes, there is a financial side to this as well. The Port Arthur News is a local business, so why would there not be? Expenses incurred by Hurricane Harvey and rapid increases in newsprint costs, driven by recent and substantial tariffs, have created over a half-million dollars in additional expenses this past year. Newsprint increases alone have driven similar changes in publication cycles and delivery methods throughout the industry.
I feel it’s important to share our decision-making process and the factors that went into it with our readers to ensure they understand why this business move needed to be made. As has been in the past, without information, speculation begins and can run rampant, creating false narratives that some may accept as fact.
We also understand that even with sharing this information, there will be some residents that will claim this is the “last nail in the coffin for newspapers.” That one makes me laugh, as it couldn’t be further from the truth.
The decision to have the Port Arthur News delivered to its subscribers using the USPS sets in place a series of print and digital additions such as video publishing, live social media community discussions, email blasts, increased e-editions, and a host of other exciting add-ons that will position The News financially for decades to come. And that in itself is very exciting.
You will have questions or concerns about this change. And when you do, please feel free to call me at 409-721-2400. I love hearing from our readers.
Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News.