Wednesday, Dec 11 2013 11:30 AM

Then and Now: Why the third time 'is a charm'

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Claudia Elliott

We have all heard the old saying, "the third time is a charm" and in the weekly newspaper business over the years I've observed the truth of this.

Whenever we make a change, no matter how small, it generally takes three weeks to get it right. The first week, despite the greatest planning efforts, typically finds us facing something we didn't think of. The second week, we have a better idea of what we missed, but surely something else will come up. But usually the third week we have it nailed.

Of course, in the interim if we've made some other change, we might still be ironing out some more wrinkles in the big plan.

I think of it like throwing pebbles in a pond. You have to wait for the ripples to reach shore and if you keep throwing pebbles, you'll never have the calm surface you'd like to see.

But the changes we made last week were more like boulders than pebbles and I'd like to apologize to our subscribers for the confusion.

If you received your newspaper on time last week, we're glad. In fact, most people did. However, there were some glitches and we're working this week to fix them and hopefully we won't discover too many new ones.

Your patience is appreciated. And for those of you who weren't so patient, we appreciate you, too. We're glad you want the paper!

Distribution plan

For those who don't know, here is our new distribution plan:

At the end of November, we discontinued publishing The Weekender and expanded distribution of the Tehachapi News with the idea of trying to reach almost everyone in the Greater Tehachapi area on a weekly basis with one publication.

We worked to reorganize our distribution effort because it takes a lot of work to distribute 14,500 copies of the newspaper in a single day.

For the outlying areas, we have to rely on mail because of the many areas that a carrier can't get to easily.

In most areas of town and Golden Hills, we are able to use carrier delivery which gives us more control over the time of delivery.

For many years, some subscribers have been used to getting the Tehachapi News along with The Bakersfield Californian.

For logistical reasons, we decided to discontinue this practice. And while things didn't go quite as planned the first week, there are many good reasons for this and that continues to be the plan.

You may have noticed that last week's paper and this week's paper include two dates -- Tuesday and Wednesday. That will be true throughout December. Because we carry legal notices, this double-dating is necessary for a brief transitional period. Beginning in January we will officially publish on Wednesdays.

As I mentioned earlier, most people received their paper on time last week if they lived in the city or Golden Hills. Those with mailed copies had to wait longer. We mailed the newspapers on Tuesday but unfortunately we are at the mercy of the Postal Service as to when they are delivered.

In at least one case, we may have had the counts for the route wrong and this is something we've corrected this week.

There may be a few people who are in our "mailed" area but have a PO Box instead of a box near their home. If that is your situation, please call Stephanie Ursua at 822-6828 and she will set your account so you will get the paper at your PO box.

But, why?

Especially if you are among those inconvenienced by these changes, you may be wondering why we would put you through all of this.

The bottom line is that we think it's better for the newspaper in the long run.

While we appreciate subscriptions, it's advertising revenue that pays for the printing, distribution and staff including the reporters who gather and prepare the news each week.

Changing times means that fewer people are willing to pay for a newspaper, but most will read it if they receive it.

To provide our advertisers with return on investment, it's important to reach as many readers as possible, and that's the bottom line of our new plan.

Last week, despite the problems we encountered, the Tehachapi News reached far more readers than it ever has in a single week in our 114-plus year history.

Once we've solved the problems we encountered last week, our readers should be able to count on receiving the newspaper at about the same time each week -- whether it is Tuesday or later -- and we'll be able to let our advertisers know when they can expect their advertising to reach out readers, too.

If not next week, then sometime very soon I'm expecting that things will calm down and the very real benefit to everyone will be that we have effectively increased distribution of the Tehachapi News which is good for our readers, good for our advertisers and good for the community because more people will have access to our full package -- news, features, arts and entertainment, opinion, sports and advertising.

Other matters

I had a few other questions in messages left last week and will attempt to answer them here because many may wonder the same thing.

One reader called to complain about the sticky notes on the front. We get paid to include these and yes, you have to remove them very carefully or you'll tear the paper underneath. They help us pay for news coverage, so in the end they're alright by me. I try to remember that patience is a virtue when I'm peeling them carefully from the front page.

Amother question was, "is the Tehachapi News now free." No, it is not. We sell copies at the stores and in racks here in town and in our office. We continue to offer subscriptions and only subscribers are guaranteed delivery (on time is our goal!). But we will be giving copies away, as well, courtesy of our advertisers.


CLAUDIA ELLIOTT is editor of the Tehachapi News. Call her at 823-6360 or send email to: celliott@tehachapinews.com.

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