The Facts will change its business model in response to the historical effect COVID-19 is having on the local, state and national economies and the newspaper industry, company officials announced today.
On May 1, The Facts will begin a five-day-a-week publishing schedule with an expanded weekend edition and a new focus on digital news coverage and features, company leaders said.
Print editions of The Facts will be distributed to subscribers and single-copy readers Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The larger weekend print edition will appear Saturdays.
The Facts will continue to publish local news seven days a week through its digital edition, thefacts.com.
“This change is a direct result of COVID-19 dramatically disrupting our lives and economy,” Editor and Publisher Yvonne Mintz said. “Our mission is vital, bringing news to our communities in the best and most trying of times. Still, we are much like any other small business. When the local economy suffers, we suffer.”
The Facts generates 75 percent of its revenue from advertising, primarily from local businesses. The balance comes from subscriptions and other products.
When the economy came to a grinding halt in mid-March, most all of the businesses who depend on the paper to reach their customers suddenly found themselves in turmoil, either with their supply chain disrupted, their doors ordered closed or both.
“Many of them have pulled their advertising, through no fault of their own, of course, drastically reducing our paper’s revenue and leaving us searching for ways to cut costs to survive this dangerously thin window,” Mintz said. “Our advertisers will be back, and our economy will rebound, but none of us can be sure what that will look like or how long it will take.”
Meanwhile, the demand for local news intensified, with more readers than ever seeking our news out online.
“The Facts is a vital community resource,” Mintz said. “We have to do whatever we can to preserve it.”
The decision to change print frequency did not come easily for the newspaper. However, doing nothing was not an option in this challenging economic time, Mintz said.
“We take very seriously our commitment to serving our community, especially in times of crisis,” Mintz said. “I have to be mindful of the financial realities of running this business, though. This change positions The Facts to continue our legacy of quality community journalism for the long haul.”
The announcement comes at a time when the U.S. newspaper industry, which already was facing headwinds, is being especially hard hit by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and response to that.
Publishers and newspaper companies across the nation are taking similar steps to cut costs and increase efficiency as they work to develop new sources of revenue and continue to serve their readers in a time of global crisis, Mintz said.
The new production schedule will allow The Facts to cut newsprint expenses in order to help the paper preserve employees, she said.
“Generating quality local news is not free or inexpensive,” Mintz said. “Our employees get paid and enjoy good benefits. They live and shop and volunteer locally and are vital members of our communities.
“We want to take whatever steps we reasonably can to keep them on the job and serving our readers.”
The Facts was founded in 1913. The newspaper is locally managed and independently owned and operated by Texas-based Southern Newspapers.
“This is a big change, especially for our print-only readers,” Mintz said. “We realize it will be hard to adjust your habits. We are committed, though, to providing you all the news and features you have come to rely on, just on a slightly different print schedule.
“Sunday comics and crosswords will be delivered in the expanded weekend edition on Saturdays, for you to enjoy at your leisure throughout the weekend,” she said. “We are also adding features to that weekend package, to make it an even better read.”
The first weekend edition, to be delivered Saturday, May 2, will include another installment of the puzzle book the paper debuted last month. And starting May 9, the weekend paper will include Parade Magazine.
Online readers will notice expanded offerings.
“This is not a change we wanted to make,” Mintz said. “But we will adapt and do our absolute best to serve readers well through this hard time and beyond. We will get through this trying time together and remain committed to supporting local businesses and the community we love.”