Dear valued readers,
It’s been nearly two years since the announcement that I was buying back the Denton Record-Chronicle from A.H. Belo Corp. It’s been great to have the company back and branded under our new name, Denton Media Company. We are a media company, not just a printed newspaper. Our reach, in any given month, is roughly 400,000 unique individuals.
That is nearly half of the roughly 850,000 people who live in Denton County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. That’s also about eight times the number of people the Record-Chronicle reached in the best days of newspapering — and certainly wasn’t half of the county population back then.
We don’t have a readership problem. We have so many more people reading what we do today than ever. We reach you with print, digital, newsletters, social, magazines. We reach all ages, demographics and walks of life. We are not the “enemy of the people,” as the national media have been portrayed. We live here, work here, spend our money here and are proud that we still offer professionally written local news and information to residents of Denton County.
So what has “happened to newspapers”? A couple of things have happened. One, the growth of digital and the desire for “instant news” have made our industry change so that we can serve our readers and advertisers 24 hours a day.
Two, the retail industry has changed. Local stores have been forced out by larger chains. Larger chains have consolidated and closed, and then online shopping and Amazon came along, which has continued to change the landscape. A recent article reported that 7,000 stores have already closed this year, and we still have months to go.
Advertising in newspapers is down 67% since 2005. Traditionally advertising represented about 80% of a newspaper’s revenue, thus the costs to the reading consumers remained low.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 71% of those polled believe their local media are doing well financially, while only 14% said they paid for local news access in the past year. Therein lies the problem.
Newspaper reporters have always been the reporters that TV news, radio news, cable news turned to, to help supplement a great deal of their reporting. Still, to this day, pay attention to newscasts either locally or nationally and listen for the large number of sourcing mentions back to newspapers. Newspapers have been the ones that have had the staffs to cover the news of the cities and communities.
When you go to an aggregated site, look at the sourcing on those — where does that news come from? A vast majority of it comes from newspapers. So if newspapers die, so does the reporting that keeps you up to date with local news, what the city, county and school board are doing, the local arts and entertainment scene, business news, go and do, local high school and college sports. It’s professionally written, fact-checked journalism.
You may not always like what you read, or agree with what you read, but the reality is you see very few corrections as a result of factual errors. If newspapers made all the errors that some have claimed we make, all the money in the world couldn’t mitigate the amount we’d pay attorneys defending our work.
The Denton Record-Chronicle has one of the lowest subscription rates in the state of Texas. Many newspapers our size are anywhere from 25% to 50% higher. I promise, you don’t get more pages, or more local coverage, or anything else justifying that pricing, compared with what we offer.
As we continue to move into the digital age, we are making changes in the pricing of our products. In fact, we’re rolling out a metered paywall beginning Monday. Access to dentonrc.com, our newsletter, our e-edition and mobile sites can no longer be free. Quality, factchecked journalism comes with a cost.
A Politico study from 1996-2015 tracked what happened in markets where the newspaper shut down. What was seen is an increase in governments’ costs because of the lack of scrutiny over local details. As well, borrowing costs increased for cities, with bond costs rising as much as 11 basis points. The same thing can be said for county governments and school districts.
When a local media company is lost, what happens to coverage of local high school games, college sports, business, arts, nonprofits, education?
We know we must continue to improve; we aren’t perfect. We make mistakes — and when we do, you’ll see a correction in our newspaper and on our website.
As we look to the future, our goal is to continue to serve our readers and digital viewers while also making sure we provide new and better advertising solutions for our business customers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and we look forward to serving you in the years to come.