Today’s announcement that your Daily Mountain Eagle is dropping its Monday edition at the first of the year should not come as a surprise, considering the ever-changing newspaper landscape here in Alabama and across the nation.
Fortunately, the loss of one day is a far cry from the “digital-first” philosophy that led the states three largest metro newspapers in Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile to move to only three printed editions per week and cutting 400-plus jobs collectively.
Don’t fret, that will not happen here.
When I arrived in Jasper as publisher of your beloved Daily Mountain Eagle earlier this year, I did so knowing that “change” would become a frequent term among the “Bird Bunch.” Such change does not occur without much trepidation, however.
I learned a long time ago that communicating such change is key. The least I can do is to take the high road and lay it all out on the line for our readership family and business community.
Other businesses in the past decided not to be transparent about their reductions. Brad English, advertising manager for the Alabama Press Association, revealed some interesting morsels of information in his recent “Ad Vice” column regarding company constrictions:
• In 1987, American Airlines came up with a brilliant idea to remove one of the two black olives in the salad it served with first-class meals. It saved $70,000 by eliminating one olive.
• In 2008, Kellogg passed higher grain costs on to consumers by reducing the amount of cereal in its boxes by an average of 2.4 ounces. Did you notice?
• How about when Kingsford reduced its 10-pound bag of charcoal to 8.5 pounds?
• The Mars Company divided its “King Size” Snickers bar into two pieces. Their reasoning? They were doing their part to fight obesity by making it easier for the bar to be shared by two people. They didn’t tell you they were reducing the amount of the actual candy from 3.7 ounces to 3.29 ounces – an 11 percent decrease – while keeping the price the same.
• A series of prolonged frosts drove up the cost of orange-juice concentrate causing Tropicana to rethink its marketing strategy. It started by increased its prices roughly 5-8 percent, which wasn’t too surprising since the cost of fuel was, and continues, to drive up prices all around us. But while you were not looking, they reduced the size of its half-gallon carton from 64 ounces to 59 ounces. The five-ounce reduction represented nearly an eight percent decrease.
• Haagen-Dazs reduced its pint-sized ice cream container from the 16-ounce standard down to 14 ounces. To make the smaller package less obvious, the company cleverly kept the top the same size, so it looks identical to the original, but tapers dramatically in the middle.
These are all examples of companies constricting to become financially stronger in the marketplace. I just want to be straight with the good folks of Jasper and Walker County when I explain that the average daily rate of the newspaper will be approximately five cents higher after we move to a six-day publication cycle.
To offset that increase, however, don’t forget about our upcoming subscription drive, which can lock you into a savings on the current daily rate of more than five cents. Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 31 we are offering a 12-month subscription for only $89.99, a 27 percent discount. You may also sign up for six months at the 20 percent discounted price of $49.99.
In the meantime, I want to assure you that your Daily Mountain Eagle will be with you for years to come, albeit every Tuesday through Sunday starting Jan. 1, 2013.
I would like to end my column on a different note. I’d like to say “Thanks” to all my fellow veterans on Veterans Day. Without your sacrifices, this column and this newspaper would likely not be possible.
Jack McNeely is Publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.