Crystal Miller: Demand for print and digital forms is strong
Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2018
From the Publisher’s Desk by Crystal Miller
The Albert Lea Tribune doesn’t change often, but it is noted in the community when we do. We serve over 19,000 people on a daily basis through the printed Tribune and at albertleatribune.com. Any change we make has an impact when 19,000 people have the potential to notice.
Starting in September, the Albert Lea Tribune will not publish a Monday edition. This will no doubt be noticed by you. The demand for both print and digital forms of community reporting is strong, which is good news for all, but a balancing act for us at the Albert Lea Tribune.
Some say change is inevitable. When at the helm of a company that has been in business for 120 years, I have seen those inevitable changes. Taking care of those who have been loyal is a priority, yet adjusting to the modern world and attracting new generations is a necessity.
Many of our readers can remember having a paper route as a child. It was a popular first job and taught good lessons about hard work and daily commitments. Years ago, the newspaper carriers also had to collect money from each house they delivered to. As times changed, most of our carrier force was filled by adults, and we changed the collections policy to be done by our business office. Today, with modern technology, many of our subscribers prefer to pay with their bank card. Just like most technological advances, you can now do this with the click of a button on your computer or smart phone. Some of you appreciate the convenience of this service, while others still prefer to visit us in person to renew your subscription. I prefer you visiting in person as well. Subscribers stopping in to say hello and renew subscriptions is my favorite part of the day. I love when I have the opportunity to meet people who have been subscribers for many years. I learn more about them, more about Albert Lea and often get a good story tip. It reminds me to slow down and smell the roses.
We never change for the sake of change. Removing our Monday edition was a hard choice for us. I don’t like a lot of change myself. I work very hard to keep my life and everything around me at a steady pace with no surprises. I believe there is a reason things work the way they do, and changing one small piece of the puzzle can have an adverse effect on another side of the bigger picture.
There is a reason the Tribune remains relevant and successful after 120 years and a reason we don’t make many changes. Sometimes we change by adding products or improving, such as creating Albert Lea Magazine. You can visually see this improvement. Changes that involve removing services or products is an improvement you can’t always see. This change improves our financial stability and allows us to improve other publication days. We hope you will notice the extra attention we give those days.
We researched every angle and worked to foresee any challenges. If you know me, you know this included a spreadsheet. One of our challenges will be the late coverage of the Minnesota Vikings Sunday games. We will publish a game story and scores to our website on Sunday night and will print the highlights on Tuesday. We owe it to you, the reader, to make it a little more relevant than that. We are looking for a few good fans willing to share their insight and commentary on Vikings games. If you are interested, please give our sports writer a call at 507-379-3434. You are the voice of Albert Lea, and we appreciate what you have to say. If you have other ideas, we would be glad to hear them as well.
When the Tribune started in 1897, there were two editions each day, and the cost for a subscription was $6 per year. Through the years, it changed to one edition per day, and annual subscriptions rose to $129 per year in 1991. As material costs, payroll and other items have continued to increase since 1991, we chose to absorb those increases in areas that wouldn’t increase the annual subscription price for our readers. Since 1991, we have watched the price of a stamp double, from 25 cents to 50 cents. Gas went from $1.10 to $2.42. Most shockingly, the average cost of a college education has increased from $5,000 per year in 1991 to over $20,000 per year in 2018.
I don’t want to give up my smart phone or my ability to pay bills via the internet, but I do dream of going back to a time when the world was a little slower, the roses were easier to smell and children still delivered our newspaper. We are sad to see our Monday edition go. We will mourn its absence like a first child going off to college. We rest knowing that we are reaching more people than ever before with our younger children (the internet) and are excited for the chance to focus extra energy into improving our other publication days.
There are 25 daily newspapers in Minnesota. We are still considered one of those daily newspapers. I send a special thank you to the folks who are loyal subscribers to the Albert Lea Tribune for helping us to stay a daily newspaper.
Crystal Miller is the publisher of the Tribune.