Newspapers are not dead, far from it. We’re consolidating, collaborating, working smarter, that’s for sure. Embrace the digital revolution and all its benefits, absolutely. But not dead; in fact, the public’s thirst for information is unprecedented and we are responding to the demand in new and innovative ways.

To paraphrase Bob Hope, the comedian and tireless moralizer of our military, “Well, we’re still here. … We’re just happy that it has a happy outcome.

Do you remember the iconic gaffe? Hope’s much-surprised joke was in response to Rep. Bob Stump, R-Arizona’s premature announcement that he died on the U.S. house floor in 1998 after the Associated Press mistakenly published a partial obituary on its website. Hope’s daughter Linda had to phone to dispel the information.

From 2021:Undercurrents: As the world goes on, looking back on 28 years at the keyboard

Previously:News Herald makes Saturday edition digital from March 26

I stand in the shoes of Linda Hope today, saying that reports of our industry’s demise are greatly exaggerated. We are not dead, but we are changing for the better.

Switching from a Saturday print edition to an electronic edition may have made you feel like you’ve lost an old friend. I know how you feel, I’m old school too. I like having a printed edition in my hands. I started reading newspapers when I was 6 or 7 years old. Sports stories first, then finally world news that I could relate to. When my father was serving in Vietnam, I read all the articles about the war that were published in the newspaper.

A journal in my hands feels natural.

Well, why is our industry changing? Because a free press is vital to our nation’s success and the industry’s previous business model was a death wish in a digital world. As Antonio Guterres, the head of the United Nations, has said, unfettered journalism is “the cornerstone of building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable, and bringing truth to power.”

Our mission is important. To keep you informed, the change was necessary.

Let’s make it easy to understand. Do you have a newspaper in your hands or are you sitting next to you now? How about a laptop, tablet or smartphone? If you answered “no” to the first question and “yes” – maybe “yes, yes, yes” – to the second, you know where this leads.

It’s all about demand, and the digital revolution has long since left the station as high-speed rail. The choice was for the logs to work together and jump on board, or die. Some waited too long and missed the high-speed train. Others clung desperately to the railing of the caboose. These newspapers to visionary leaders came on board with the engineer. I am grateful to Gannett – the parent company of USA TODAY and the four Florida Panhandle daily newspapers, the Pensacola News Journal, the Northwest Florida Daily News, the Panama City News Herald and the Tallahassee Democrat – for helping the engineer drive the train on the tracks.

Gannett’s Florida dailies also reduced their press operations in mid-January, closing print shops in Panama City and South Florida and moving printing operations elsewhere.

Another change coming March 1 is the move to an electronic Saturday-only edition. E-publishing, which has long been an option on our websites, is a growing part of our readership.

Electronic editions are exact reproductions of the real paper, with the same characteristics. They have obvious advantages, including:

  • Instantly available across the US – get your local news even when you’re away, and no missed deliveries.
  • Much better for the environment — no inks, no newsprint, no photo chemicals for printing plates and no gas consumption to deliver them.
  • Character sizes can be enlarged as needed.
  • Access to all Gannett newspapers across the country and their local coverage. Do you have parents or siblings in Burlington, Vermont? We have what you need. How about friends in Phoenix, Arizona. Same! The United States covered as a blanket.

So while it’s easy to lament change, history shows us that it’s not necessary. Computers and smartphones have changed our lives for the better, haven’t they?

And who said a “free press” had to include a printing press?

Ray Glenn is the editor of the Panama City News Herald and the Northwest Florida Daily News. You can reach him at [email protected]

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