The Bulletin's TV changes and beyond

The Bulletin: TV changes and more

John Costa / The Bulletin /

A week ago, The Bulletin reduced the size of its weekly TV book, a decision some readers — 50 or so — question.

I am sorry I didn't describe the change to your newspaper in advance, which is my custom.

But the decision, which was not taken lightly, was made with good reason.

Facing a challenging market, which Central Oregon remains, we are trying to balance the interest in controlling expenses with the commitment to maintain what we do uniquely and well.

Newsprint is a critical and increasingly expensive cost for The Bulletin, as it is for all newspapers.

It is also one of the two major controllable costs we have, the other being payroll.

It can be a harsh and unforgiving calculus for sure, but reality is that we have to make choices between these and, as you are aware, charging more for the newspaper.

In all of our calculations, we strived to maintain the breadth and depth of the report, as well as the broad sectional array that has placed The Bulletin among the nation's strongest circulation performers.

Trust me, we like giving you a big newspaper each morning.

We publish hundreds of news pages a week in The Bulletin, and even after we adjust to what we continue to hope is a temporary, if persistent, economic stall, we will still publish hundreds of pages.

Newspapers have adopted varied approaches to this problem, including reducing the days of publication. In some markets, that may well be appropriate.

But not in an area with the future of Central Oregon.

While we need to reduce newsprint costs until the market improves, we are committed to a daily newspaper, seven days a week.

Where does that leave us?

We want, first of all, to maintain our strengths and reinforce them with new approaches to outdoors and Boomer coverage, among others.

Our coverage in local news, business news, prep sports, the outdoors and community sports, entertainment, culture, health and medicine, editorials — as well as local letters and columns — will be rock solid.

So is our commitment to give you each morning top state, national and world stories, and particularly the analysis and context of these events.

But how do we keep our strengths and address the question of newsprint and its costs?

Monday newspapers have for decades been the weakest for advertising and news across the nation. Do we need four thin sections that day, or would two thicker sections work?

That's one question.

We publish multiple feature sections on two days. Can one suffice, if we rearrange content? Can Comics move to Classifieds to accomplish this? That's another question.

Do our readers demand a full page of stocks, plus a full week wrapup in the Sunday Business section? Yet another.

These are the challenges we are working through.

But one thing I can assure you.

You will recognize, appreciate and respect your Bulletin. There is very good news for those readers who contacted us about the TV section.

Many of them have focused on the absence of stories about television shows and personalities, etc. Some of those stories will move into the daily newspaper.

We are also looking at ways to improve the TV grids, of which we still maintain a broad array.

And there is one very heartening aspect to the response. Newspapers across the country make changes to their products and get no response.

Not at The Bulletin.

Judging by the response we have received, I'd say our readers have a loyalty and interest in the daily newspaper that is the envy of the business and the pride of all of us who work to produce it.