In an effort to provide more localized coverage, the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune recently launched a pair of weekly print-only publications.
The Western Weekly and Eastern Observer debuted June 8 and are planned to be published every Thursday. Each paper covers specific areas of the city and surrounding neighborhoods.
“This is a journey back to our community journalism roots,” said publisher Neal Ronquist. “We seek to provide coverage of youth sports, our elementary schools, our churches, other civic organizations and of course the people who make these neighborhoods special. Publishing products with smaller press runs limits our expenses and also allows us to offer lower price points to potential advertising partners.”
The News Tribune will print 3,000 copies of each weekly free for the first few months while the papers gain more subscribers. After that, subscriptions for the new weeklies will cost $36 per year, and single issues will be available at stores for $1. Both newspapers are 12 broadsheet pages and feature a 60/40 editorial to advertising ratio.
What makes this launch interesting is that none of the content found inside the papers will be available online. For Ronquist, it was a financially important decision they “move away from free content publications to paid weeklies.”
“We feel our journalism is valuable and should be paid for. The demographics of the region still point toward a large, loyal print base,” he said. “We also learned that having print products compete with free online versions isn’t a successful economic model. In this particular case, we feel it is appropriate not to have an online presence.”
The paper’s former free weekly community publication, the Duluth Budgeteer, has become an advertising-only shopper for homes that aren’t already subscribed to the News Tribune.
Teri Cadeau and Elly Power will lead the Weekly and Observer respectively. Cadeau previously served as editor for the Budgeteer while Power worked as a news clerk at the News Tribune. Each will handle all the reporting, editing and photography published in the weekly papers.
Executive editor Rick Lubbers said there is very little overlap in content between the main paper and the two weeklies. While the daily publication will continue to cover the city of Duluth as a whole, the weeklies plan to take a closer look at issues facing residents on hyperlocal level.
“For example, the News Tribune would cover a city council debate and vote to make changes to the city’s park system, and then the Weekly and Observer would further explore how those changes affect the neighborhoods in their coverage areas,” Lubbers said. “Our readers will learn more about not only the neighborhoods that they live in, but also the areas surrounding them, and how they contribute to making Duluth a vibrant city.”