If ever there was a year that seemed to exemplify Murphy’s Law (“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”), 2020 would be that year.
As you know, accelerated revenue declines brought on by the pandemic precipitated a number of difficult changes at The Forum and at Forum Communications brands all across the Midwest — namely, reductions in print frequency and a switch from carrier to mail delivery.
Upon implementing these changes, we asked a lot from our subscribers. Chiefly, we asked that you continue to trust us as we work to enhance our digital products and increase the value in the remaining days of your printed newspaper. Those were our commitments to you.
Recently, we’ve fallen short of one of those commitments. On Friday, July 17, a storm-induced power outage at The Forum prevented us from running the press, which meant we didn’t get that Saturday paper to the post office in time. We received many notes of understanding after the power outage, which we appreciated more than you know. Then, on Wednesday, July 29 the equipment we use to label our papers malfunctioned, and that issue caused us to miss the mail deadline for many of the zip codes in our delivery area once again. We didn’t receive as many notes of understanding this time — and for good reason.
I want to assure you that we’re just as frustrated as you that these unexpected issues have recently impacted our ability to deliver the printed newspaper in a timely manner. You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child?” It takes one to produce a paper, too. Many teams work incredibly hard to get the news in front of you every day, so when something prevents it from reaching you in the way you expect, it’s disappointing to us all.
While a couple of unexpected circumstances have gotten the better of us in recent weeks, we hope you give us a chance to demonstrate the many things that are going right.
For instance, our recently launched e-paper app has become a new favorite for many who like to read the replica of the paper first thing in the morning. Many have commented on how user-friendly the new app is, allowing them to browse everything from the day’s news, comics and grocery inserts all from a mobile device. We’ve also recently added between 7-15 new pages of content into the back of your e-paper on any given day, staying true to our promise that, while the format may change, we are investing in producing more of the content our readers demand. And, speaking of more content, we recently added new sources of national wire content into our portfolio to ensure we bring a diverse range of voices to our news products. All of these enhancements — and many others we currently have in the works — started as the result of subscriber feedback.
We want you to know that we hear your frustrations, and we’re listening. We hope you’ll continue to trust us and keep sharing your feedback — the good, the bad and the ugly — along the way. It only makes us better.
2020 has been filled with unexpected challenges at every turn for all of us. We appreciate the grace you’re giving us as we navigate them. Here’s hoping that for the rest of 2020, whatever can go right will go right.
Stephanie Schroeder is chief digital marketing officer for Forum Communications.