Ken Stickney: As close as your mailbox; come join us
Our 21st century Port Arthur News is taking an 18th century approach to news delivery — via the U.S. mail.
Back to the future. That’s a good thing.
Our Founding Fathers wanted the postal service to deliver newspapers — at subsidized rates — throughout the 13 colonies and toward the westward moving population in order to disseminate political information and knowledge across the growing country. Their intention was to enable everyone — even those outside the political power centers in the East — to be in the political know, as much as the newspapers of the day provided for it.
Thus, common citizens could access political news.
When the Confederacy formed, the new national government wanted the Postal Service to pay for itself. That made dissemination of information more expensive and difficult to access. Only the wealthy — such as the planters who promoted secession — could afford the news. It didn’t matter after a while; newsprint was in such short supply that few Southern newspapers could publish after the unpleasantness opened.
Our decision to move to mail delivery starting Sept. 11 was not necessarily to tip our caps to our Founding Fathers, deserve it though they may. Nor is it to honor the centuries old practice of mail delivery of the news.
Mail delivery has routinely been part of newspapering long before and long after carriers started home delivery. My hometown newspaper was delivered to me by mail in Tuscaloosa, Alabama 40 years ago. This is nothing new.
We believe that the mail delivery will be efficient for our current customers, though, and will enable us to reach potential readers who lie beyond our ready reach. In the spirit of our forefathers, we want to extend the reach of the news into the whole community in places we are not reaching now. That will strengthen our financial base and help us build for our newspaper’s future.
We’re confident, too, that the post office will deliver same day, as the law provides. The Houston office has taken great interest in the on-time delivery of our newspaper via the mail, and we take them at their word.
Will this news product change? Some, as it already has changed over the course of this year. Will news delivered by mail be “old news?” Absolutely not.
Over the past many months we have sought to do more in-depth reporting that focuses not only on the matters of the day but also on the issues that endure. Thus, we report not only a specific crime but on how police are dealing with crime overall. We report not only on a government action but on how government action affects you.
Some readers say they appreciate our news or editorial coverage, our watchdog efforts and our capacity to stretch our news staff to cover more of this county and area. We have tried to provide more compelling editorial coverage. That won’t change.
We believe we will continue to provide substantive, relevant news with every edition. We will continue to expand our coverage through digital products that are reaching a wider audience.
The latest chapter for this newspaper’s story will start next week. It’s as close as your mailbox.
Ken Stickney is editor of The Port Arthur News.
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