Medford, Oregon Newspaper to End Print Publication | North West

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Medford, Oregon’s Mail Tribune will print its last newspaper on FridaySeptember 30, and move to an all-electronic format from October, according to owner and publisher Steven Saslow.

“I have made a commitment to Rogue Valley to maintain a print newspaper as long as we can break even. We eclipsed that a long time ago,” said Saslow, who bought the paper five years ago.

He said the costs of printing and delivering a physical newspaper threaten to bring down the whole business and destroy an information product that has been around for more than 100 years. In addition to the labor costs for printing and delivering newspapers, the price of newsprint keeps rising and fewer and fewer companies are selling specialty paper.

The Medford Mail was founded in 1888 and merged with rival newspaper the Medford Daily Tribune in 1909.

Saslow said the online Mail Tribune receives 1.8 to 2.3 million views per month. Online readers eclipse print readers by a three-to-one margin, he said.

In August 2021, the Mail Tribune switched from printing the newspaper seven days a week to printing four days a week while continuing to publish new content on its website seven days a week.

He will continue to post new articles, photos and other content online every day, Saslow said.

After switching to a four-day-a-week print schedule last year, Saslow said, many fans of the print edition have grown accustomed to checking the paper electronically on non-print days on mailtribune.com.

Saslow said he knew many readers would be disappointed when the Mail Tribune stopped printing and delivering newspapers.

“I’m sure a lot of people will be upset. People like me and older grew up with a physical diary,” he said.

Around 15 people involved in printing the newspaper will be made redundant and around 40 newspaper delivery drivers who are independent contractors will no longer have work with the Mail Tribune. The company will have around 40 to 50 people in departments that include the newsroom and advertising, Saslow said.

He recently informed staff members and contractors of the upcoming changes.

“I want to put more money back into journalists and expand coverage. The most important thing is that the integrity of the product will not change. It will only get better when we can redeploy resources to more journalists and better coverage. It has become very clear that we can survive rather than sticking to a printed product, which will put us out of business,” Saslow said.

Saslow said it has become increasingly difficult to find enough people to deliver the papers. They must pick up printed newspapers around 10 p.m. and work until about 6 a.m. to deliver newspapers throughout Rogue Valley.

“You’re out all night,” he said.

Saslow said subscribers generally want to read their physical newspaper in the morning, so he decided against turning the newspaper into an afternoon or evening product that would allow delivery drivers to work during the day. This change would also not have reduced printing and paper delivery expenses.

In the long term, Saslow said, it’s not yet clear if the online-only Mail Tribune will be free and fully ad-supported, or if it will continue to require subscriptions. Newspapers have traditionally relied on a combination of subscriptions and advertising for their revenue.

Saslow said the Mail Tribune could move to a hybrid model offering free content with premium content requiring a subscription.

So far in conversations with advertisers, he said they generally understood the Mail Tribune’s need to be online-only.

Saslow said national chain stores that paid for multi-page ad inserts in newspapers have cut back on that advertising, which once made up a significant portion of ad revenue. The loss of inserts has dealt a further blow to the newspaper industry’s ability to print and deliver newspapers.

In addition to news coverage, the online Mail Tribune will continue to offer popular features such as comics, puzzles, sports coverage and entertaining activity information.

The online edition does not currently offer as much national, national and international news as the print edition.

Saslow said the online edition will begin to offer more news from outside the region as well as local news. Upgrades to the Mail Tribune website are coming in the coming months, and the format for viewing content on a smartphone will improve.

“This is cathartic change for all of us. I thank everyone for their support. I thank everyone for their patience with us,” Saslow said. “I am very grateful that this community is not deprived of the resources of the Mail Tribune.”

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