Papers combine resources to offer a stronger product

March 29, 2009 

Knowing I've spent almost 30 years in the newspaper business, people often ask, "What will you do if there is no newspaper?"

My response is always the same. I ask them, "What will you do if there is no newspaper?" It starts the wheels turning, and we usually end up agreeing that a society without newspapers is unthinkable. They are integral to our democracy -- and we can't let them go away.

Are we changing? Definitely. Are we expanding the way we deliver news and information? Without a doubt. Are our online sites, islandpacket.com and beaufortgazette.com, as important to us as the printed paper? Absolutely. We're transforming and moving to other digital platforms that are paramount to our future -- but we aren't going away.

Newspapers have been jolted by two seismic events: the move to the information age and, right on its heels, the prolonged recession we're all in. We've had to make changes, as a result, to bring our expense structure in line with our declining revenue base.

Remember, newspapers have two sources of income -- advertisers and readers. Our woes are a reflection of the pain our advertising partners are feeling. We are all in one boat in Beaufort County, floating down a river that has divided us for far too long.

Tomorrow you will see more changes. We're merging most of the pages of the Gazette and Packet. We will continue to use two nameplates, The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, but the pages on the inside will be common to both north and south county readers.

We aren't trying to fool anyone. We are integrating our resources to give our growing readership the best paper possible. Instead of diluting two papers, which would have been necessary as a result of expense reductions -- we think one robust countywide paper makes more sense.

What hasn't changed is our commitment to public service journalism and our unwavering, impassioned dedication to Beaufort County. We will continue to bring you relevant and reliable coverage -- as the Packet has done since 1970 and the Gazette since 1897. We've been here for many years, and we intend to be here for many, many years to come.

We hope you'll share the boat ride with us.

Sara Johnson Borton is the publisher ofThe Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.

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