Galveston paper adjusts print frequency to navigate COVID economy

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The Daily News (Galveston, Texas) will change its business model in response to the historical effect COVID-19 is having on the local, state and national economies and the newspaper industry, company officials announced Friday.

On April 4, The Daily News will begin a five-day-a-week publishing schedule with an expanded weekend edition and a new focus on digital news coverage and features, company leaders said.

Print editions of The Daily News, the state’s oldest daily, will be distributed to subscribers and single-copy readers Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The larger weekend edition will appear Saturdays. Coast Monthly, the newspapers glossy magazine, will be delivered in the larger weekend editions.

The Daily News will continue to publish local news daily through its digital edition, GalvNews.com.

"Like most businesses in our community, we did not anticipate having to make such changes before COVID-19 arrived and dramatically disrupted our lives," said Leonard Woolsey, publisher of The Daily News and president of Southern Newspapers.

"The Daily News is much like any other small business," Woolsey said. "Our business model relies on revenues generated from local advertising and subscriptions.”

About 70 percent of the newspaper's revenue comes from the advertising of primarily local businesses; the balance is from subscriptions and other products.

"A good community newspaper's health is generally a direct reflection of a local economy," Woolsey said.

"Unfortunately, this is not business-as-usual for so many of our local advertisers in this community — and by direct relationship, certainly not for us either.”

The decision to change print frequency did not come easily for the newspaper.

"We made this decisive change to our operating model to be able to navigate through this punishing economic tunnel," Woolsey said. "Doing nothing is not an option. We intend to serve this community for the long-term.”

The announcement comes at a time when the U.S. newspaper industry, which already was facing headwinds, is being especially hard hit by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and response to that.

Publishers and newspaper companies across the nation are taking similar steps to cut costs and increase efficiency as they work to develop new sources of revenue and continue to serve their readers in a time of global crisis, Woolsey said.

The new production schedule will allow The Daily News to cut newsprint expenses and help it preserve employees, he said.

"Generating quality local news is neither free nor inexpensive," Woolsey said. "Our employees get paid like any others and enjoy good benefits. They live and shop locally and are vital members of our communities.

“We want to take whatever steps we reasonably can to keep them on the job and serving our readers."

The Daily News was recently named the best local newspaper and best newspaper website and Coast Monthly was named best magazine by the Texas Press Association.

The Daily News is the oldest newspaper in Texas, founded in 1842. The newspaper is locally managed and independently owned and operated by Texas-based Southern Newspapers.

“The Daily News has changed before over the course of its 178 years,” Editor Michael A. Smith said.

“It has been a weekly at times and published several days a week at times. It has been a morning paper at times and an afternoon paper at times. It was among the pioneers of digital journalism, adopting that technology in the early 1990s.

“One thing that has not changed through all of that is its dedication to quality. That won’t change now either.”

The newspaper’s full name, The Galveston County Daily News, which dates to the 1980s, also will not change, officials said.

“We are not going anywhere,” Woolsey said.

“And with the help of our subscribers and local advertisers, we will continue to deliver the best local journalism for Galveston County both online and in print."

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