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Macke: No, the sky is not falling… Why we use mail

I was asked recently, while visiting the Nederland Post Office, if I could share with readers again the reasons for our decision to go to mail delivery. Many may recall this column that was posted last August, just prior to the conversion. However, some state they did not see it. So here it is again:

Q: Will I be able to receive my paper the same day? Or will it take two-three days to get to me?

A: You will receive your subscription the same day. The U.S. Postal Service has a program called “Exceptional Dispatch for periodicals,” which required them to deliver on the same day of the publication.

Q: There seem to be issues with the Port Arthur Post Office that keep residents from receiving mail daily? Will this affect delivery of the paper?

A: We have been advised that subscriptions will be delivered daily. Both the Houston Post Office and Port Arthur Post Office are working to ensure papers go out without a hitch.

Q: Are you going out of business?

A: Seemingly every time a newspaper announces change to their business model, speculations begin. No, we are not anywhere near going out of business. Prior to the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey, The Port Arthur News was forecasted to finish the 2017 fiscal year at financial profitability levels that had not been seen in 12 years. For seven months following Harvey, there were indeed financial difficulties, as many businesses and residents felt. However, over the past three months, advertising revenues have jumped back to prior year levels. We are forecasting a strong finish for 2018 and even stronger 2019.

Q: So what was the mindset behind this change? Why was it important if The News is doing so good?

A: Great question. Yes, as stated above, revenue wise, we are doing well. But since January of this year, newsprint increases have increased greatly due to the federal tariffs on Canadian lumber. In total, this is an increase of $350,000 yearly to our newsprint expenses. That’s not an amount many businesses can absorb easily. For the future of The Port Arthur News, and to continue being profitable for the next 5-10 years if not longer, I had to make a decision. Either increase subscription rates across the board or find a way to reduce expenses the amount needed to offset this increase. As many subscribers are still recovering financially from Harvey or are on fixed incomes, I didn’t feel it was right to hit those folks with such a large rate increase. So, I decided on the conversion to mail delivery.

Q: Will single copy papers still be delivered in the morning to stores?

A: Yes, we have contracted two very good independent contractors that will handle this for us and will be able to have these papers to stores even earlier than previously had been.

Q: How will I get my Sunday store fliers?

A: As the USPS does not deliver Sunday; we will be create a “Weekend Package” that will consist of all Saturday & Sunday news, inserts, comics and classifieds. It will be a combination of two papers delivered at once Saturday.

Q: My carrier was fantastic, what will happen to him or her?

A: Changes like these are never easy, especially those that affect people we like. Two of our carriers have been contracted to deliver our single copy papers. Others have been offered positions at our press site in Orange. While still others will be helping us deliver other products such as the Nederland and PNG News, our magazines and our Thanksgiving Mass Distribution publication.

Q: Won’t getting my paper in the mail, mean I get it later in the day? And won’t that be old news?

A: For some, depending on when your mail carrier comes by your home, it could be later in the day. But as for old news, The Port Arthur News is the only news outlet in Mid & South Jefferson County that focuses totally on local news. News that is important to you and about your community. Yes, TV and radio have their 15-30 second blurbs. But our news staff focuses on the depth of the story others don’t have time to do. We also keep watch over city and county governments to ensure everyone knows what they are up to. This will not change. And this kind of news is never too late to receive.

Q: If I don’t want to wait to get my paper later, how can I get the news?

A: The Port Arthur News has added an E-Edition to each subscription. It’s as easy to use as checking your email. Each morning you will receive an email from us at 6:45 a.m. Click on the link, and read the paper on your computer, laptop or tablet. It is an exact replica of that day’s newspaper. If you need help setting it up, just give us a call or go to www.panews.com and hit the e-edition button just under The News logo.

I do want to thank the dozens of subscribers who have reached out over the past few days with their concerns. As I stated Sunday, I thoroughly enjoy talking with readers and hearing your point of views. And if you have additional questions about this change as we move forward, don’t hesitate to call me at 409-721-2400.

Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News.