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A Note to Our Readers From the Publisher



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Most Valley News readers are well aware that the newspaper industry faces any number of challenges these days, the most recent being a significant increase in our production costs resulting from a tariff on newsprint. In that regard, it’s not surprising that I’m often asked how the Valley News is doing. Some people pose the question in the starkest terms: Is the Valley News going to make it?

The answer to that question is a resounding yes. We will continue to fulfill the myriad functions that a healthy local newspaper always has: serve as a reliable source of news for our readers, an advertising vehicle for businesses, a forum for public comment and discussion and, of course, a business.

Underlying that question is a perception expressed recently by a friend: The Upper Valley would be a very different — and poorer — place without the Valley News. I couldn’t agree more, and it is my responsibility to do what is necessary to ensure that it doesn’t happen. That requires that I look not just one or two years ahead, but five or 10. That longer range view has convinced me and others at Newspapers of New England, the company that owns the Valley News, that we need to make changes, some of them distressing, to ensure our long-term health. Although some of those changes won’t occur for several months, I want to share what lies ahead.

In July, we will outsource the advertising design process to Gannett Company Inc., resulting in the loss of three jobs. Changes in the industry have made our current structure unsuitable to the seasonal ebb and flow of advertising design. Under this new model, our costs will match demand, resulting in savings. We also will have access to more sophisticated digital design capabilities and ad-performance analysis that advertisers expect.

The printing of the Valley News will move from West Lebanon to a refurbished offset printing facility in Concord. The press operation will be a joint venture with our sister newspaper, the Concord Monitor. Getting the new press up and running is expected to take approximately six months. Our seven full-time press and five full-time distribution personnel are being offered positions at the Concord facility, as have 18 part-time press and distribution staff.

One change you will notice is a reduction in the width of our newspaper. The size of the Valley News will be the same as The New York Times and TheBoston Globe, which is now the industry standard. Due to the travel time from Concord, our printing deadline will be slightly earlier, possibly resulting in not getting in some late-breaking news. We also will change the home delivery deadline, tentatively to 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and 7:30 a.m. on weekends.

I do not relish making these changes, but the necessity for doing so can’t be ignored. Among the benefits are a significant reduction in printing plate costs, reduced newsprint costs, better reproduction and easier access to parts for the press. This also will allow other publications that we print to have the option of a narrower width, saving them money as well. In addition, the new press will allow us to increase our printing business.

How will readers experience the Valley News after the restructuring is complete? The physical appearance of the Valley News will be different, but not its content. Our deadline will be earlier, but there should be no significant change to the content. We are committed to providing the quality journalism that you expect and deserve in your local newspaper. A large number of newspapers across the country have decimated editorial staffs and cut costs to improve the bottom line for shareholders. We are fortunate to have local family ownership that values and supports quality journalism. We will strive to have as robust a newsroom as possible.

The Valley News is more than what you read: We are Upper Valley residents and your neighbors. We will be a smaller operation in West Lebanon but will still have approximately 60 staff members in our office, contracts with over 40 delivery drivers and 20-plus contributors who write on various topics.

Let me fully acknowledge that some of these changes will be painful. Some hard-working, dedicated employees will be losing their jobs; others are being asked to undertake longer commutes. In a perfect world, I would not be altering our deadlines. But these changes are being made because it is my job to ensure that the Valley News remains in a position to play the same essential role it has in the Upper Valley for the last 66 years.

One thing that has always impressed me is how our readers feel invested in the Valley News and treat it as if it was theirs. The truth is, it is — and that’s the only way a local newspaper can thrive and remain essential to the community it serves. The changes we are making will be implemented over the coming year, and I invite and welcome your feedback as we move forward. I can be reached at dmcclory@vnews.com or 603-727-3203.

Dan McClory

Publisher, Valley News

On behalf of everyone associated with the Valley News, I thank you for your support.