The word “news” is, you’ve no doubt noticed, pretty much the same as “new.”
This is no coincidence.
The Baker City Herald’s goal as a newspaper, as it has been for the past 150 years, is to bring to you, our readers, information that is new to you.
In many cases this information is about an event that happened very recently, that is itself “new” — a public meeting or a sporting event or a wildfire that took place only hours before the paper reaches you, for instance.
But we also publish stories about things that didn’t happen quite so recently, but that you haven’t read about before.
That’s news, too.
Since June 2009 the Herald has published three issues per week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Starting the week of Feb. 4 we’re shifting our schedule to publish on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
This will affect the freshness, as it were, of the news we bring to you.
And on balance I believe that that news will be, well, newer. That’s because we’re going to take advantage of the revised schedule, not simply deliver each issue a day later.
There are a few exceptions to the newfound freshness to our news, due mainly to the Baker City Council typically meeting on Tuesday nights.
We cover those meetings, and publish stories about the Council’s actions, because councilors are our elected representatives, and their decisions directly affect how our property tax dollars are spent.
We usually publish stories about Tuesday night Council meetings in the Wednesday issue. Most of you get that issue in late afternoon or early evening.
With the new publication schedule, stories about the City Council’s Tuesday meetings will be included in the Thursday issue. That issue will arrive earlier in the day than you’re used to, however, due to the other change that starts Feb. 4. That’s when we start delivering the Herald through U.S. Postal Service. And depending on where you live in town, your mail is delivered as many as several hours earlier than the paper is distributed now.
The situation is opposite when it comes to another public entity we cover diligently — the Baker County Board of Commissioners. They meet on Wednesday mornings, so the meeting stories aren’t in the paper until Friday. Starting in February we’ll be able to get those stories to you a day earlier.
Moreover, technology allows us to deliver news all but instantaneously, and we’ll be continue to take advantage of that utility to keep the Herald’s news from becoming stale.
As a subscriber you have unlimited access to our website — www.bakercityherald.com. As we have for almost two decades, we’ll use the immediacy of the website to let you know what’s happening in our community. That includes posting stories about City Council meetings before the paper copy lands in your box.
We’ll also continue to use both our website and our social media sites — Facebook being the most popular among our readers — to bring you the latest local high school sports results, regardless of what day they take place.
In many other respects, and particularly events that unlike meetings don’t heed any schedule, the impending change to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday issues will allow us to pack fresher news into those papers than we can do now.
Here’s why: The Herald, which is printed at the EO Media Group’s plant in Pendleton, will come off the presses at night rather than in the morning, as is the case now.
Under the current schedule, we have to finish the paper by 9:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
That morning deadline frequently makes it difficult, and sometimes impossible, for us to gather information from law enforcement and other sources about events that happened the previous day or overnight in time to publish a thorough story — or even any story at all.
But our new evening deadline will largely do away with that dilemma.
Let’s say, for instance, that a snowstorm slickens the freeway and causes a rash of accidents on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday morning.
With our current morning deadline we would struggle to put together a story and photo package for that day’s issue.
But after we switch to the evening deadline the first week of February, we would have time to assemble a comprehensive report about that storm and get it into an issue that you will be reading before the ice has turned to slush.
Storms also happen on Tuesdays and Thursdays, of course.
But for events that happen on days when we don’t publish, we’ll do just as we do now, and use our digital sites to deliver fresh news.
I’m sure some of you are so accustomed to reading the Herald on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays that it’s become part of your routine, as ingrained as your favorite time and place to sip a mug of coffee.
Indeed, I hope most of you belong to that group. I hope so because it means you value the Herald — we don’t, after all, willingly make unpleasant things part of our routines.
And although I understand that even minor shifts in routine can be unsettling, I think the advantages of the coming changes — bringing you mostly fresher news and getting it into your hands before darkness falls regardless of the season — will enrich that part of your day when you settle down with the Herald.
Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald.