Extra, Extra: Afternoon Newspaper for Northampton To End
Gazette Plans a.m. Delivery
Aaron Julien, the paper’s new general manager, confirmed the planned switchover in an interview with downstreet.net.
Julien, 43, acknowledged that morning delivery of the paper represented a “a major, major change” for readers, employees and the community.
Newspapers of New England purchased the Gazette earlier this year from the DeRose family, which had owned and published the paper for three generations.
A Concord. N.H - based firm, Newspapers of New England, publishes two daily papers in New Hampshire, the Concord Monitor and the Valley News in West Lebanon, as well the daily Greenfield (MA) Recorder, all of which previously were afternoon papers but switched to morning delivery some years ago. The company also publishes a number of weekly papers.
Newspapers of New England also at one time owned the Holyoke Transcript Telegram, but shut down that paper in 1993.
Julien said there had not been any discussion about converting the Gazette to a morning paper during the talks that lead to its purchase by the New Hampshire company.
But after purchasing the Gazette, Julien said, “we looked at what people wanted, we looked at what were their expectations and it became clear that publishing in the a.m. was the best way to serve readers.”
As part of changing the publishing schedule, he said the Gazette will beef up its website staff so that it can update news stories during the day as a complement to the morning delivery of the print version of the paper.
He said the news department was eager to undertake the change to morning delivery of the news.
He also said that the Gazette hopes “to retain as many of the existing kid carriers as we can, which is good for the community.” This was the experience in Greenfield, he said, after the switchover there.
Although, Julien, a lawyer, has little actual newspaper experience, his wife Abby was a copy editor for many years at the Portland Press Herald, and worked for the Associated Press as a reporter. They have bought a home in Amherst and will move there from Falmouth, Maine, later this summer. His brother Andrew is city editor at the Hartford Courant.
Over the last half century there has been a slow but steady decline in afternoon newspapers, which at one time was the dominant publishing schedule for most dailies in the majority of small to medium-sized cities and towns across the country.
In 1950 there were 1,450 so-called evening newspapers, and only 322 daily newspapers that were delivered in the morning.
But changes in work schedules and other demands, such as television, on families’ available leisure time contributed to the relentless erosion of the dominance of afternoon papers. Some were simply killed, especially in the large cities where there was morning competition, others converted from afternoon delivery to a morning cycle.
By 1970 the number of morning papers has increased to 334, the afternoon number slipped to 1,429. Twenty years later in 1990 there were 559 morning papers, and 1,084 still coming out in the afternoon.
By 2000, morning papers outnumbered the afternoon daily 766 to 727, and the slide continued with the latest figure in 2004 showing that there were 814 papers delivered in the morning, only 653 in the afternoon.
The circulation figures are even more dramatic evidence of the decline of the role of the afternoon newspaper.
According to the Newspaper Association of America, circulation of the afternoon newspaper dropped from 32 million in 1950 to 11 million in 1997 and that trend has only accelerated since as circulation as a whole continues to be lost. It is especially among afternoon papers that the loss of readers has been the most severe.
In more recent years, overall newspaper circulation continues to drop, some of it replaced by more readership of Internet news sites, much of it provided by traditional newspapers. In addition, the total number of daily newspapers has declined by a net figure of 322 from its 1950 total of 1772.
The Gazette, as an “evening” paper with a circulation of 18,500, has attempted to move closer to coming out earlier in the day – about 11:30 a.m. for downtown sales - by having earlier deadlines and producing more of its content overnight. However, the paper still has to rely on children to deliver the bulk of its papers as carriers after they get out of school in the afternoon.
In the early 1970s, the Gazette converted its Saturday edition from an afternoon paper to one that is delivered in the morning. The Gazette's principal competitor, the Springfield Republican, is a morning paper and circulates an edition each day in Hampshire and Franklin counties.
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