REGIONAL- Battered by loss of advertising revenue driven by the economic consequences of COVID-19 shutdowns, The Duluth News Tribune announced last week that it will drastically cut its printed …
REGIONAL- Battered by loss of advertising revenue driven by the economic consequences of COVID-19 shutdowns, The Duluth News Tribune announced last week that it will drastically cut its printed newspaper editions from seven days a week to just two, beginning in July.
The News Tribune will continue to publish web-based editions every day, but the cut leaves the 280,000-person metro area without a daily printed newspaper. This comes on the heels of an April decision by the News Tribune to downsize all its print editions except Sundays to a single 12-page section. The newspaper also will deliver its print editions by mail, resulting in job losses in its print, circulation, and mail room departments.
The newspaper’s parent company, Fargo-based Forum Communications, has been implementing cost-cutting measures throughout its four-state media holdings, which include about 30 newspapers, four television stations, and a radio station.
Last week the Lake County News-Chronicle became the third Forum-owned newspaper to shut down completely since the start of the pandemic. Cutbacks announced along with those at the News Tribune include scaling back the Superior Telegram to one weekly print edition, and the Fargo-Moorhead Forum to two print editions per week.
Publisher Neal Ronquist said in a press release that “the pandemic expedited the inevitable cut to print.” Noting that the company had slowly been transitioning to online news platforms, Ronquist said pre-pandemic decreases in advertising and print subscriptions, combined with the current economic crisis, led to the cutbacks.
“Unfortunately, what’s occurred is that the pandemic has accelerated that timeline of that transition,” he said. “What may have been a transition of years has all of a sudden translated into days.”
In a column announcing the changes, News Tribune Executive Editor Rick Lubbers emphasized that the paper will continue to cover the news seven days a week, and that the daily e-editions “will be filled with all the news, features, sports and advertising that our print readers value.”
He also noted that the daily e-paper, which resembles a printed newspaper, will provide subscribers with more content than print editions could provide. The newspaper also will continue with its news website.
According to the Poynter Institute of Media Studies, 30 newsrooms across the country have closed since the start of the pandemic. Since 2004, about 1,800 newspapers have shut down, Poynter reports, with 1,700 of those being weeklies.