PORT ANGELES — The decision to switch to mail delivery for the Peninsula Daily News and Sequim Gazette was a tough one after months of agony, the publications editor said at the Kiwanis Club of Port Angeles.
“We know there’s a lot of disruption,” said Terry Ward, vice president of Sound Publishing and publisher of the Peninsula Daily News and the weekly Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum.
“Readers want to be able to drink their morning coffee and read their daily newspaper,” which won’t be possible for those whose mail is delivered later in the day or to PO boxes.
“Ideally readers would receive the PDN in the morning, but we’d rather they receive it later in the day than not receive it at all,” Ward said.
March 28 will be the first day of the new system. A special dispatch for periodicals is in place and is intended to deliver newspapers the same day they are published.
Due to the change, the Sunday newspaper is replaced by a Saturday edition since the Postal Service does not deliver on Sundays. The first day of the change in weekend delivery will be April 2. as well as later.
All digital platforms – the website and the digital app – will be released as always in the morning. This includes the replica printed online. Subscribers to the print version can access the news online at no additional cost. Digital-only subscriptions are also available.
The color comics currently in the Sunday paper will be in the Saturday paper, along with other articles now published on Sundays.
The PDN has been struggling to get the paper delivered to customers for several months.
Timing has a lot to do with it. The COVID-19 pandemic and the aging of some long-time carriers – who are independent contractors – have contributed to this.
Many carriers are reliable, even heroic, in delivering the newspaper to homes in the worst weather conditions and in the middle of the night.
“It’s very hard work,” Ward said. “We know there are great carriers who have been with us for a long time.”
But over the past 18 months – and especially the past nine months – staff from all departments, including broadcast, advertising, prepress and editorial, have been delivering newspapers to try to fill in the gaps.
Complaints about papers being delivered in batches or not at all poured in.
Kiwanis members described their problems Thursday. One, regarding the Blue Mountain Road area, “pushed me over the edge to make the decision to go into mail delivery,” Ward said.
“That’s what really compelled us to set the date.”
The choice was made and the carriers were given 30 days notice that their contracts were cancelled.
The US Postal Service honors federal holidays. On these days, newspapers will not be delivered. There are now plans to extend subscriptions.
“If readers say they want news even though it’s a day late, then we’ll reevaluate,” Ward said.
Newspapers will be held with other mail in the post when people go on vacation.
Subscription prices should not change at this time.
“Some said they would have been willing to pay more,” to have it delivered by carriers, Ward said.
But the rates should have increased drastically.
“We don’t think the majority of our readers could have sustained that kind of increase,” he said.
The shift to mail delivery is reminiscent, for those old enough to remember, of a time when most daily newspapers were delivered in the afternoon by young people walking or cycling during the day.
This has changed for most morning papers delivered early in the morning by adults driving cars. Today, mail delivery is an option that many newspapers use to ensure that readers get the news.
“These decisions are tough,” Ward said.
“Other newspapers have made drastic cuts. Walla Walla (Union-Bulletin) and Yakima (Herald-Republic), both owned by The Seattle Times, made the decision to go three days a week.
Sound Publishing didn’t want to reduce the frequency of publishing the PDN, Ward said, but at the same time, “there’s no point in our news team putting out award-winning journalism if people aren’t getting the papers.”
One of the benefits of mail delivery is reducing the company’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of cars on the road, Ward pointed out.
He also mentioned that it will no longer be necessary to wrap newspapers in plastic bags to protect them from the rain, another plus for the environment.
Delivery tubes in residences will eventually be recovered, Ward said, warning that it could take some time to clear them all.
Carriers received praise at the meeting; they were also relieved that they were no longer subjected to dangerous conditions at night.
Ward was thanked for “staying attached to paper and ink. There is something to hold it in your hands.
Ward said PDN is “100% committed to print,” while also developing digital content, to provide multiple platforms for news content.
“We know broadband access still has a long way to go.” he said. “Going online only would cut off news and information to a large part of the population.”
Managing Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or [email protected]