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Changes loom at Herald; here's a recap

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Two weeks and more than 100 phone calls after the initial announcement, the Herald is nearing the date that we will discontinue printing a Monday edition and consolidate printing services with the Forum in Fargo. That said, let's put one thing to rest: The Herald is not closing, nor are we moving our administration, newsgathering, circulation or advertising departments to Fargo.

That's a rumor that has circulated throughout town.

So, with that rumor put to rest, the fact that remains is we have had many readers call and many others write with concerns about these decisions. That's a good thing. It also reminds me of a quote attributed to a former Los Angeles Times editor, John S. Carroll.

"In marketing, the idea is to manage the number of complaints down to zero," Carroll said. "That's fine if you're making toasters, but a newspaper that get no complaints is a dead newspaper."

The Herald is not dead and we're working hard to ensure it never will be. Yet, as noted in a column I wrote two weeks ago, the costs associated with producing a newspaper are climbing fast and revenues are declining. At the same time, customer preferences are changing. So if we don't make changes to the decades-old way we do things, our future would be perilous indeed.

This is not a problem unique to Grand Forks, but one that is happening at newspapers nationwide.

As a recap, here are the changes: Beginning Aug. 27, the Herald will not print a Monday edition. An online digital edition, which looks just like the printed version of the Herald, will be available those days.

Also beginning that day, the Herald will consolidate its printing in Fargo. That means we'll have an earlier deadline and will therefore not have most late-breaking news and sports coverage in the following day's print edition. All of that content, however, still will be available on our digital edition.

And, as usual, we'll still have all content — including the late news and sports — available on our website.

Here are a few changes that will accompany the new format:

The Herald will still carry columnist Lloyd Omdahl. His column will move from Mondays to Wednesdays. There will not be an Opinion Page in the Monday digital edition.

Marilyn Hagerty's Monday "Eatbeat" column will move to Saturdays.

Tom Rand's bridge column will move to Sundays.

The Monday digital edition will still include a crossword puzzle, Sudoku and Jumble. We have learned that some people at present use the digital edition to print out these puzzles. They will still be able to do that.

The bingo numbers will not be included in the Monday digital edition. To accommodate this change, the Herald will publish six bingo numbers (instead of the usual three) in Tuesday's edition.

The Herald will continue to publish a comics page in Monday's digital edition.

Speaking of comics, we hope that new press configurations and capabilities will allow us more consistent use of color for the weekday comics. To those who have voiced complaints when the comics have run in black and white: This isn't a promise, but simply an update on something we hope to accomplish.

The Herald does not plan to publish obituaries in the digital edition. And if we do decide to publish obits in the digital Herald on Monday, we will publish them again in Tuesday's print edition.

The Herald already offers expanded USA Today national news in its digital edition every day and this will continue on Mondays. The digital edition last Monday, for instance, included 13 pages of USA Today content.

The digital edition is free to current subscribers. Anyone who would like to learn how to access it can read instructions in the ad on today's Page 2, or simply call our office for detailed help.

Korrie Wenzel is publisher of the Herald and Prairie Business magazine. He can be reached at kwenzel@gfherald.com or directly at 701-780-1103.