Print is lifeless. Long dwell digital. Long dwell the Houston Press. In dot com kind.
As of at present and going ahead, there will probably be no extra print copies of the Houston Press. We’ll be online-only at houstonpress.com, a enterprise choice caused by declining promoting revenues seen all through the print newspaper trade and extra particularly for us, the mini recession brought on by the downturn within the oil and fuel trade that did nothing good for the Houston economic system.
And then, in fact, there was Hurricane Harvey. That was the topper. The large flooding destruction it brought about appeared to immediately goal eating places and the humanities neighborhood – a few of our largest advertisers – who confronted with declining revenues of their very own discovered that they had different, extra urgent bills to contemplate.
Despite all of the thousands and thousands of people that learn us every month, or all of the journalism awards we’ve gained, or the profitable public occasions our advertising and marketing division has introduced, the actual fact is, we haven’t been making sufficient cash to maintain ourselves in print and our guardian firm Voice Media Group determined it may not afford to be our enabler.
A brand new streamlined Houston Press will emerge beginning subsequent week, nonetheless presenting the leading edge journalism that readers aren’t prone to get elsewhere, nonetheless questioning the established order whereas highlighting what we predict is nice about Houston. The distinction will probably be sole editor will probably be working with freelancers to supply editorial copy, reasonably than having a workers available.
It’s not like we haven’t modified earlier than. When I returned to Houston virtually 20 years in the past to tackle the editor-in-chief place every little thing was directed towards unhurried fact-finding – actually that was confused in our recruitment advertisements. For somebody coming from the each day newspaper world as I used to be, it took appreciable adjustment to get used to the truth that each occasion didn’t require a right away response. The workload was simply as intense as now, however totally different. At our top we have been working two in-depth magazine-style tales in each concern.
When we finally moved to a web based element there was an enormous adjustment as properly. Suddenly we have been again within the recreation – among the workers for the primary time of their careers – of responding shortly, of answering the bell, gathering ideas quickly whereas nonetheless writing clearly and cleverly.
As it turned out normally the net calls for helped everybody develop into higher, sharper writers. Readers engaged with us in methods they hadn’t previously. Posts on-line led to ideas that took us to bigger tales. Photographs appeared higher on-line than they might ever look on newsprint. Cover tales discovered new properties in one in every of our 4 posting areas – meals, information, arts and music – and Best of Houston was there to see forever, not only a once-a-year particular occasion.
Did I need to see the tip of the print version, the dreaded either-or as a substitute of publishing in each kinds? Well, in fact not. Who desires to be the editor whose printing press was shuttered? Where was Warren Buffett after I may actually have used him to swoop in?
But it’s what it’s. Our guardian firm may have killed this publication utterly. Instead it listened to our Publisher Stuart Folb and saved it alive in digital kind, with the corporate’s profitable new digital promoting company serving to to buoy the brand new mannequin.
Quite a lot of good folks right here will not have jobs on the Houston Press and that for me is the saddest and most painful half.
Nearly all of our workers have been handed their termination papers at present. In a number of instances, entire departments are gone. These are individuals who normally labored above and past as a result of they actually preferred working right here, preferred the camaraderie, the shoppers, the fascinating folks they received to fulfill.
In the newsroom that signifies that reporters who have been greater than competent, who may negotiate probably the most sophisticated enterprise paperwork or speak with sensitivity to individuals who have been going via the worst days of their lives – journalists with ardour and discernment whose work has modified lives for the higher — are instantly with no platform, or a paycheck.
We depend upon a large variety of freelance photographers, graphic artists and videographers whose work can also be extremely valued. This change can even have an effect on them within the variety of task alternatives obtainable.
The journalism trade has had a tough time currently for any variety of causes that embody vastly decreased revenue margins, a enterprise mannequin that hasn’t seen the identical degree of promoting income on-line because it had in print, and competitors for consideration from anybody with an opinion on-line.
At the Houston Press we nonetheless suppose we’ve got rather a lot to say, rather a lot so as to add to the dialog. There will probably be new copy on-line day-after-day and we hope you proceed to learn us. There will probably be quite a few promoting alternatives, and we hope you keep as one in every of our shoppers or develop into one.
I’ve cherished working for the Houston Press greater than some other job I’ve had in my life. In the 19 years and 9 months I’ve been right here as editor-in-chief, I started working with good, gifted individuals who advised tales that nobody else was telling. You didn’t have to be an essential official to get us to take heed to you.
Looking over an software letter from one in every of my hires in my first yr with the corporate, I’m caught by her enthusiasm for working on the Press. “You quote people saying what they actually say,” she wrote. “That is so cool. You see they gained’t let me try this right here.
“In that story concerning the child with muscular dystrophy they wouldn’t let me quote him saying that when the physician advised him he had six months to dwell it scared the crap out of him,” she defined.
The future scares the crap out of lots of people. Amid all of the unknowns forward, there are some constants. The Houston Press nonetheless exists on-line. It will nonetheless be as related and irreverent as wanted. There will nonetheless be promoting and readers.
Those of you who’ve been with us to this point, please take the subsequent step with us. Like the Astros originally of their ultimate recreation en path to successful the World Series, we’ll begin by taking part in small ball. Chipping away, staying alive. And maybe some day, larger and higher than ever.
Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its print and on-line publications. She regularly writes on a variety of topics.