Idaho Falls paper drops its Monday print edition

Among the dramatic cutbacks seen at news outlets across Idaho amid the economic downturn was the Idaho Falls Post Register’s decision to drop its Monday print edition as of March 2.  The paper has published seven days a week since 1996, when it added a Saturday edition. The decision to stop Monday publication – a day that’s often the thinnest paper of the week for many newspapers – is a sign of how far the cuts are reaching in Idaho’s newspaper business.

Here is an article by Post Register Publisher Roger Plothow on the decision; the article originally appeared in the Post Register, announcing the move.

“Despite our instincts to the contrary, the Post Register will soon eliminate its Monday print edition.

It’s a sign of these extraordinary — quite literally gut-wrenching —  economic times, the likes of which we haven’t seen for more than three generations. As a business manager, I understand the anxiety many others in my position are feeling, because I feel it myself. Not only do 140-plus families depend on incomes earned at the Post Register, Challis Messenger, Jefferson Star and Shelley Pioneer, but tens of thousands of readers and advertisers depend on us, too.

We’re now in the 14th month of a recession that shows no signs of abating. Some businesses are closing their doors while others are tightening their belts. Many of these businesses are advertisers with the Post Register, and some are choosing to reduce their advertising spending as they decide how to manage their reduced income.

So, while the Post Register’s readership has never been stronger, we, too, are feeling the pinch of the global economic distress. These financial realities require all businesses, including the Post Register, to make hard but necessary decisions to ensure we continue to thrive during down times.

More than six months ago, we publicly considered eliminating our print edition one day a week, both as a way to reduce our costs and to recognize that more and more people are turning to the Internet for their news.  At the time, we decided not to make that move. But since then, economic conditions have worsened. So, we’ve taken another look, and this time we’ve decided it’s the prudent thing to do.

Effective March 2, the Post Register will return to a six-day printing schedule, providing an online-only update on Mondays. Our regular Monday features will be moved to other days of the week.

Quite frankly, the very hought of eliminating a print edition rubs me the wrong way. But the old saying is true — sometimes discretion is, indeed, the better part of valor. In this case, discretion calls for putting out the best printed product we can muster six days a week instead of seven. In this changing economic environment, businesses that don’t stay nimble will be left in the dust.

This move, combined with the savings in paper we’ll see when we begin to operate our new press in April, will help us avoid layoffs that we’d otherwise have to make.

Until 1996, the Post Register was a six-day paper. For the past dozen years since we added a Saturday edition, we’ve been a seven-day-a-week paper. Going back to six days is very much in keeping with our longstanding tradition, but this time we’ll be able to provide a modest online edition on Mondays when we don’t deliver a printed newspaper.

Subscribers who have prepaid will be credited with extra time on their account. Otherwise, there will be no change in our subscription rates, which remain among the lowest in our business.

Meanwhile, I don’t think I’m being naive when I say that I’m optimistic. The Post Register continues to move forward despite the economic challenges. We’ve recently purchased and are now installing a new state-of-the-art printing press that will both improve the quality of our printed products and reduce our paper costs.

Beyond that, we’re working with our advertisers to ensure they get the best value possible for their ad dollars and we’ll cover the news completely but sensitively — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Despite the obvious depth of the challenges we face, we don’t fear the current difficulties or the future. The best way to deal with challenges is to confront them head on, and that’s what we’re going to do.”