Tuesday, December 18, 2007

San Antonio newspaper stops daily delivery in 30 rural counties, says coverage will continue

About 30 rural counties in southern and central Texas will no longer get daily delivery of the San Antonio Express-News, which proclaims itself "The voice of South Texas since 1865," reports Bob Richter, the Hearst Corp. newspaper's public editor.

"The Express-News is the last of the state's major newspapers to pull back, but it's a trend. The area from which the Express-News is withdrawing — effective Dec. 31 — is roughly the size of Maine, with a circulation of about 12,000 papers daily and nearly 13,000 on Sunday," Richter writes. "It's a lot of trucks and carriers driving long distances, burning lots of fuel to deliver relatively few newspapers. But it's devastating news for people who have made reading a newspaper a daily ritual most of their lives." He quotes several, then his bosses.

Express-News President and Publisher Tom Stephenson said the decision was "difficult but necessary" because the paper's circulation and revenue are declining as production and newsprint costs were increasing. "We were delivering newspapers in the state at a significant loss," he said. The paper is offering readers in the area a $2-a-week subscription (the first 30 days free) to an electronic edition with traditional newspaper formatting. Some places, such as Pearsall, only 55 minutes from downtown San Antonio, will be Sunday-only.

When a paper's circulation area shrinks, its coverage area usually does, too. Not so with the Express-News, Executive Editor Robert Rivard said: "The State Desk mission remains the same because we cover South Texas primarily for the benefit of our readers in San Antonio and the surrounding counties." (Read more)

No comments: