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March 4, 2009

Reflecting a Struggling Economy

Michael Kurtianyk

When I first heard the news that The Frederick News-Post was suspending its Monday edition, my first thought was: “Uh oh, it’s the beginning of the end. The FNP will go the way of other newspapers around the country.”


One would think that this cutback doesn’t bode well for our local newspaper. One day taken away would mean two days, then three days, then just the publishing of a weekend-only edition. Having given it more thought, and talking to friends and colleagues throughout the county, my position is that this is a smart decision in the long run.


But first, the quotes: “March 30 will be the last Monday edition for the foreseeable future,” said Editor and Publisher Myron Randall.


"We have made a broad range of cuts across the company that has affected every facet of our operations," Mr. Randall said. "Although we are suspending the Monday edition, we're committed to improving our Sunday and Tuesday papers and the quality of our product across the board.”


What will happen is that there will be a “Monday Advance” section in the Sunday paper beginning April 5. The section will feature an all-local-news front page and house the Farm and Garden section dedicated to the county's agricultural community.


As our economy struggles, the News-Post needs to tighten its belt, and this decision will help in the long run. Mr. Randall is correct to make this decision now – staving off layoffs. By taking one day a week off ensures job stability for many. Even the U.S. Postal Service is considering taking a second day off (perhaps Tuesday or Saturday), even as it raises the price of a stamp from 42 to 44 cents this May 12.


Newspapers have been in a long decline over 25 years, first with competition from electronic media and then, for the past decade, with the commoditization of information via the Internet. Publishers and owners have now been choosing between bad options: cutting, selling or even closing. Also, advertisement rates are down, as companies cut back on advertising spending.


The News-Post cannot go the way of the closings of the Rocky Mountain News (since 1859), The Tucson Citizen (since 1870), and (possibly next) the San Francisco Chronicle (since 1865). The News-Post must not succumb like the others.


Our newspaper has done a great job in focusing its resources online. With the advent of technological progress and the younger demographic using their cell phones so much, the online edition is the way of the future. Look at any article posted online, and you will see citizens posting comments on the articles and editorials, and sometimes to each other.


At 126 years old, The Frederick News Post, though creaking and aging, is keeping up with the times.


Live long and prosper!


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