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Big changes coming to Detroit Lakes Newspapers

Big changes are coming to Detroit Lakes Newspapers as the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Becker County Record swap publishing days. The Becker County Record also will only be available via subscription or on newsstands.

Without wanting to lead with a cliché, it is hard not to.  These certainly are challenging times.

Challenging for homeowners, bankers, and the unemployed, main street business, auto dealers and, yes, challenging for newspapers as well.

Financial failures at some of the country's biggest daily newspapers have been well documented.  The state of the state of the industry, however, has been negatively exaggerated, mostly by the electronic media, in financial trouble itself, trying to cloak those woes by a constant barrage of anti-print propaganda.

And while the danger of financial ruin is exaggerated, the print media is facing several significant realities.

Real estate advertising, while once a stable revenue source, can no longer be counted on to fill the classified pages.  The same can be said for automotive advertising and local retail in general.

A changing media landscape and the recession are the culprits. Internet and direct mail continue to carve up the advertising pie into thinner slices for everyone.  Several once-strong local businesses have closed their doors for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, newspapers still retain, and are expected to continue to retain, the largest share of media dollars.

There are bright spots, especially in small communities where the newspaper is hyper local in content, and is the largest gatherer of news. Much of what you read in the pages of the Record and Tribune is just not available anywhere else. The Internet has offered tremendous revenue opportunities for our newspaper and our advertisers. We have more regular Internet users than there are people in Becker County.

We believe newspapers can and will weather the storm. To do so, however, we are going to have to change. That's why we are announcing the most sweeping restructure of our printed product in over 20 years.  These changes and efficiencies will propel us forward and result in an even stronger and better newspaper.

Effective Oct. 4, the Becker County Record again becomes a paid subscription newspaper, along with the Detroit Lakes Tribune.  Publication of the Record will move to Sunday (Saturday in some areas) and the Tribune will return to Wednesday.

The Lake Area Press will continue its weekend distribution, but will become a non-subscriber publication. Advertisers that wish to continue Total Market Coverage can do so by advertising in either the Tribune or Record and the Lake Area Press.

While all these changes may seem complicated, it really is pretty simple.  Everyone will get all the ads and flyers they currently receive.  The Record and Press package will be distributed at the same time.

Current Tribune subscribers will receive the Record as part of a single subscription package, non-subscribers will receive the Press. If you are now a Record/Tribune subscriber and also want the Press, there will plenty of copies on area newsstands.

We are also going to unveil a totally redesigned Tribune, while the Record will continue to look the same.

A facelift would be meaningless without continual attempts to get better. We are increasing our type size to help out persons like myself, who are visually challenged when reading.

We will bring back a very popular full page "Variety" section. Entertainment information will expand and be presented in a more "quick read" format. Classifieds ads will grow, changing from a very narrow 9 column width to a much wider 6 column format. Many other surprises are in order as we strive to be even more local in content.

We certainly are interested in your feedback and comments. These are significant changes, and not everyone likes change.  If you fit in that category, please give us a chance.  This realignment, redesign and increase in local news is good for our readers.

Non-duplication, while still offering Total Market Coverage, is good for our advertisers while being as cost-efficient as possible. Publishing a better newspaper is good for everyone.