Coming soon: a thicker News-Topic for weekends

Oct. 28, 2013 @ 05:54 AM

The Sunday News-Topic is about to gain some heft, and it will start coming out earlier.

Much earlier.

In fact, the paper with all of the Sunday coupons and sales advertisements will start appearing in stores and sales racks about 9 p.m. on Saturdays starting Nov. 9.

The paper also will be at least six pages fatter than before because the Saturday and Sunday papers are merging to create a Weekend Edition of the News-Topic, publisher Terese Almquist said.

“We are extremely excited about our new Weekend Edition, which combines all of the news elements of our Saturday and Sunday publications, plus we’ll be adding new features,” she said. “I believe that once our readers have an opportunity to read the Weekend Edition they will also be excited.”

The idea for a Weekend Edition began with examining reading and business habits, along with trends in the increasing use of digital tools by news consumers.

The best indicators the newspaper has about how the community uses the News-Topic are sales and advertising. The Saturday paper typically has the least advertising of any day the News-Topic publishes, Almquist said. It also has the weakest sales at stores and racks, and employees knew anecdotally that even many people who get the paper delivered are too busy on Saturday to read the paper until late in the day – or until Sunday.

That meant the staff was working just as hard to produce a Saturday edition that advertisers didn’t want and readers often ignored as they were to produce the other five editions each week.

It made more sense to take the news and popular features from the Saturday paper, move them into the Sunday paper, and let the news staff focus on making that paper stronger, Almquist said.

Improvements being added to the Weekend Edition include an expanded community calendar – at least a page, listing all activities for an entire week in one place – as well as expanded, all-local opinion pages with a local editorial cartoon, and more space for stories in the sports section.

Because there will no longer be a newspaper on Saturday mornings, starting on Friday, Nov. 8, all live local sports coverage will be posted to the News-Topic website, newstopic.net, as soon as the stories are written.

Soon, a paywall will be reinstituted on newstopic.net. Subscribers, both newspaper and online, will have unlimited access, and after the paywall is up, all News-Topic stories will be posted online as soon as they are ready instead of waiting until after the newspaper has been delivered.

By repackaging the newspaper’s local news presentation and eliminating one print edition, Almquist said, subscribers will get the same level of local news and sports coverage at the same cost.

These changes are intended to position the News-Topic to make better use of its resources and also be of more use to current and future readers, no matter how they want to get their news.

“One thing we’ve all learned over the years is change is constant,” Almquist said. “The staff of the News-Topic has embraced change by strengthening our social media presence via Facebook, updating our website with the paywall component to soon be introduced, moving towards a 24/7 news cycle and establishing a Weekend Edition.”