Brian Blackley

If you’re reading these words, there’s a strong probability that what you’ll read in subsequent sentences affects you.

I won’t bury the lede: The Tullahoma News is becoming a twice-a-week newspaper on April 1. We are canceling our Friday edition.

As the publisher of The News, my job is to make decisions to improve the newspaper. The word “improve” can be a double-edged sword, though. Who is targeted by these “improvements” and who’s going to get hurt by them? I’ll circle back to this later. Let me start with some answers first.

Here’s what we’re doing and how it works for you:

To our way of thinking, our annual subscribers pay for 156 newspapers over 12 months. We’re going to ensure they get 156 newspapers. Obviously, folks who just purchased an annual subscription may be due as many as 52 newspapers beyond their expiration date, while those whose subscription is nearing its annual renewal time might be owed just a few extra editions (if you’re on week 51 of a 52 week subscription, we owe you one paper for that final Friday edition you won’t receive).

Consequently, if you have a shorter-term subscription, the concept is the same. You paid for three editions a week for a given number of weeks. However many Friday issues you paid for and won’t get will be added to your subscription term where you’ll get a commensurate number of Wednesday and Sunday papers.

Rest assured, you’ll get your papers. You paid for them and we want you to get them all. Friday has traditionally been our lightest newspaper, so this works in your favor by giving you the better Wednesday and Sunday editions in lieu of Friday editions.

Next up: Your newspaper will be delivered by mail. Some folks already get it that way, but most subscribers in our area have carrier delivery. We believe the United States Postal Service that wrote the book on home delivery can get your newspapers to you better than we can. We’re better at producing newspapers than we are at delivering them. So we’re going to the professionals for help. And they are professionals. We have met with them to discuss this issue and were greeted by knowledgeable, helpful, efficient people who are willing to go the extra mile for the newspaper’s readers. We are grateful to them for their insights and assistance.

Our carriers are tremendous people and saying goodbye is bittersweet. They are the unsung heroes of what we do here and this isn’t the hero’s ending they deserve. If I have a major regret, this is it. That said, this shift is necessary for us to control costs while ensuring quality delivery. It boils down to management time and energy.

Along with this change, your newspaper won’t be in a funny looking tube attached to a post at the end of your driveway anymore. It will be in your mailbox. It will come at the same time on Wednesday and Saturday as your mail comes. And yes, your Sunday paper will arrive on Saturday, giving you more time to digest it, I hope!

More good news: your subscription price will go down. Our annual subscription for customers with Tullahoma addresses, for example, will be $49.95 per year, $20 less than current retail price. If cost is holding you back, call us at 931-455-4545 and request the new subscription rate! It’s not available online yet, as the changes don’t kick in until April 1, but now is a great time to subscribe at a reduced rate!

Finally, the editions you are getting will be thicker and more substantial. We respect your time and, let’s face it, that Friday newspaper never was our most well-regarded. Putting that content in the other editions will make for two higher quality newspapers.

So, will these moves “improve” the newspaper? I believe they will, indeed, be improvements for the majority of readers who will get better newspapers and a lower annual subscription cost. They should help our advertisers whose messages will not be diluted by a third weekly edition that isn’t as well-read. And for our stakeholders, it should improve the situation on the ground here, giving us more time to focus on better quality while spending less time worrying about delivery logistics on a micro level.

We’d also remind you of another “goes without saying” issue: We have a strong website that had 500,000 page views in February. Imagine that! According to Google, which tracks our web traffic, we had half a million page views in one short month! As we embrace the amazing ability to connect with people that the Internet has brought us, we will focus our energy on keeping our website up-to-date with late-breaking news. And each and every subscriber has unlimited access to that site. We simply need you to sign up for service so we can give you credentials to access the content. That will supplement – rather strongly – your subscription. Visit www.tullahomanews.com to register.

On a more personal note, it has been our privilege to serve the readers of Tullahoma and the surrounding area for 138 years. We couldn’t have done that without the support of this community including each and every one of you. Thank you for reading The News and for being a vital part of what we do. We hope these changes will enhance your experience as a reader and position us to meet the changing conditions in the market. We want to ensure we keep those honor rolls and sports pictures coming while holding our elected officials accountable to taxpayers, among other things.

Remember, you’ll find your paper in the mailbox on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting on April 1. And when your renewal notice comes to you, you’ll be looking at a significantly reduced subscription cost. As always, thanks for reading.