The Island Packet turns 50 next year, and as you would expect over five decades, we have gone through a lot of changes.
The first editions of the Packet came out on Thursdays and were close in shape to magazines, or what we call “tabloid” size. As the island grew, so did the newspaper. For several years the Packet published a print edition six days a week. It wasn’t until 1995 that the newspaper, and its much older sister, The Beaufort Gazette, began circulating a printed newspaper every day.
For decades, we gave away our product at a fraction of its value because advertising paid the freight. But our advertising revenue has cratered from the days when a market was just a newspaper and a couple of television stations. Now options abound and many advertisers crave niche options that target certain age and gender groups. Others have found they can reach you through their own websites or email lists.
Like any business, we’ve had to adjust. We’ve raised prices to ask you to pay closer to what it costs to produce and deliver an actual printed newspaper, and we’ve cut expenses to keep those subscription rates at a level that represents value.
This week we adjust again. As we announced a few months ago, we will stop printing and delivering a Saturday edition, beginning this week. This doesn’t mean we’ll be producing less local content, and it doesn’t mean there won’t be a full e-edition online. But it does mean we are taking another step in our digital shift, and it’s a decision made to preserve our future.
We will, however, continue to get your favorite features to you in print. Both the Friday and Sunday editions will get larger to accommodate the puzzles, comics and TV listings that would normally appear on Saturdays. Every obituary also will appear in a print edition.
We will continue to publish a full Saturday e-edition. If you have not checked out the e-edition yet, I highly encourage you to do so. Because it doesn’t carry the production costs of ink, paper and press runs, we are capable of bringing you dozens of extra pages each day in the daily e-edition, including late sports news and national news and features content. As an example, Game 7 of the World Series ended too late to make our next day’s print edition, but the e-edition had seven pages of coverage the next morning.
On the content side, we will continue to focus on watchdog journalism. Our reporting on the school district’s ethical issues and often secret behavior has brought about change. Major projects on issues such as the unprecedented workforce shortage in our county and the contamination of land in Laurel Bay have won major awards. And just in the past few months, we’ve brought to light the health dangers of Trash Mountain, the Hilton Head mayor’s travel spending, Lady’s Island growth concerns and closed-door discussions on an outrageous density proposal in Bluffton’s Alston Park.
Too, reporter Lana Ferguson has changed assignments to bring more coverage of Jasper County and North of the Broad. Lucas Larson has joined our staff to focus on projects and investigations. And of course we still have David Lauderdale, a Lowcountry legend, and Liz Farrell, offering excellent commentary.
Communities need a spunky, reliable newspaper, and your subscription is helping us with our mission to deliver journalism the community desires and deserves. More than ever, we need your investment in our work. So many of you have supported the Packet and Gazette for years, and I cannot thank you enough for that.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns related to the new delivery method, please give us a call at 877-706-8100 or email us at email@example.com. We will do everything possible to ensure your satisfaction.
Brian Tolley is general manager and executive editor of The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.