Economic necessities forces change

By Rick Cohler
ACN Correspondent
Changes are coming to the way the Advertiser Community News serves its readers throughout Outagamie County. Beginning the week of May 7, two papers will be published by K&M Community Papers; The Advertiser, a shopper featuring local weekly inserts and other advertisements from businesses throughout the region, will be delivered free to every home in the Seymour, Black Creek, Shiocton, Nichols, Freedom and surrounding areas while the more-than-century-old name for comprehensive local news in the region, the Times-Press, which has served the area since 1886, will return and be delivered as a subscription publication by mail on Thursdays. All advertisements will run in both papers.
The change is due to economic necessities, according to publisher Ken Hodgden. “Newsprint prices between this last December and June will be going up 30 to 40 percent,” Hodgden said. ”We need to reinstitute the paid subscription newspaper to help cover the cost of newsprint. The advertising revenue should cover the cost of the shopper and help with the cost of the newspaper. Subscription revenue will cover the printing of the newspaper and postage.” Prior to the establishment of the Advertiser Community News in 2009, the Seymour Buyers’ Guide and the Times-Press were managed in the same way.
Hodgden said it was not an easy decision to make. “I’ve been dealing with this for quite some time because I knew already last September that newsprint prices were going to increase in December, and I kept putting it off because I really liked the format of a free community paper,” Hodgden said. “I looked at all the angles to keep the format that we’re currently using, but we just couldn’t ask the advertisers to pay more at this point. So we’re going to ask the readers to help pay some of the cost to continue to receive the local news.”
While many of the larger newspapers are suffering in a digital age, Hodgden said he believes the smaller weeklies fill a niche. “I feel we have enough local content that the daily newspapers in our market are not covering our communities like we do; the schools, the local sports, the local governments and school boards is not covered anywhere else so if there’s any interest in what’s going on in your community, it’s going to be in our paper.”
Through his long-time involvement with weekly newspapers and in organizations which represent such papers, Hodgden is optimistic about the future of the weeklies. “Most people in the Wisconsin Community Papers Association feel the weekly publications are doing well,” he said. “We all have our struggles but the health of a weekly publication is still very strong as long as you’re covering the local content and giving the readers what they’re looking for. That’s the key.”
With the two publications, K&M Community Papers will continue to provide area advertisers with an unsurpassed method of putting their businesses before customers and provide news coverage as only a locally owned, independent newspaper can provide.