New emphasis on web doesn't mean Gazette will leave print behind

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Scott Angus
Sunday, July 28, 2013

JANESVILLE—Over the past few weeks, you've read a lot about our new website. A story on Sunday's front page continues the ramp-up to Tuesday's launch.

Yes, we're excited about the changes and the prospect that the new and improved gazettextra.com will engage more readers and bring more revenue into our company.

Amid the discussion about our online effort, however, some people might worry that we're moving away from the print newspaper and that it won't get the attention it needs and deserves.

If you're among them, relax. That won't happen. Not by a long shot.

The newspaper remains a key part of our strategy, and we'll continue to work hard to make it as interesting and informative as we can. We'll more often think digital first when stories break, but we'll simultaneously make plans to deliver the news in print once a day in a way that keeps our loyal readers satisfied.

We're among the media companies that believe print newspapers will be around and will continue to make significant contributions to our bottom line for years to come.

Not everyone agrees. You've likely seen reports about newspapers in other states reducing their days of publication from seven to three or four. You might have read or heard the pundits who claim print is on its last legs and won't be around much longer.

While the naysayers persist, their numbers are still relatively small. Most of us have faith in newspapers, and some notable leaders are betting their futures on the ability of print to not only survive but thrive.

The best examples are the people who run the Orange County Register in California, who are turning heads with their investments in print. The Register's optimistic and ambitious owners have added dozens of newsroom positions and new sections at considerable cost over the past year, and they believe that enough people still love print to make their venture a success.

They claim to be encouraged by the results. The rest of us are watching closely.

While we're not in a position to significantly increase our resources or commitment, we believe in print and will continue to devote the people and newsprint necessary to deliver a strong local newspaper every day.

We have good reason to do so. I and others have documented how newspaper revenues have fallen in recent years, but they remain our biggest income source. And we think that will continue.

We also know that many of our best customers prefer print. There's something about the tactile experience of a newspaper and the serendipity of stumbling upon articles and photos that inform you in ways you never expected that keeps people coming back.

It's important that we keep those people happy. Yes, the local content they like will routinely appear on our website first, but that shouldn't matter to those who prefer their news once a day over cups of coffee or while they sit back in their recliners.

As always, some editions will be better than others, depending on the cycle of news and the people and resources we have available on given days.

Thursday was one of those good days that make me step back and appreciate our staff and the work they do. The front page was full of local stories and photos from the Rock County 4-H Fair and elsewhere. More good stories and pictures followed inside the A section. Sports had a good local lead and informative stories on the Packers, Badgers and Brewers. Kicks did its usual fine job of previewing the week ahead in entertainment.

We can't do that in print every day, but we'll keep trying—for years to come.

Scott W. Angus is editor of The Gazette and vice president of news for Bliss Communications. His email is sangus@gazettextra.com. Follow him on Twitter at @sangus_.

Last updated: 3:00 pm Monday, July 29, 2013

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