By Charles Boring
Beginning in January, we will be combining our two weekly editions into one, larger paper. In journalism class, they teach students to get the important items out early and clearly. The above sentence sums it up, so here is the story behind the statement. As we marked our Volume 75 and our 75th anniversary over the last two years, we have spent some time looking over our history. How the original paper, the Penn-Franklin News, started and how the Delmont Salem News and Penn Trafford News were added.
It started back in 1947 with just the Penn-Franklin News published once a week. As communities developed, the Delmont Salem News was added, then the Penn Trafford News. Each being more specific on the news of their neighborhoods and school districts. Each had their unique front page, with most of the news and advertisements inside common between the three papers. Along the way the Penn-Franklin and Delmont Salem increased to twice a week, then the Penn Trafford News was changed to the bi-weekly format.
As the communities began to blend together with residents crossing township and school district lines to participate in church, sports, and community events, the front page of the three papers started to blend together. At first, stories flipped from the front to the ‘inside front’ page for the other papers, then rotated from the top to the bottom of the front page. As we added full color photos, it restricted those types of changes and we now have our current practice of only changing the ‘flag,’ or name, between the three papers.
During our two year trip back through our history, we also watched the changes in our neighborhoods, and country in general, as we all reacted and adapted to the pandemic. Where once the daily newspapers were the one place people looked for the latest breaking news, today the internet and phone apps have replaced those ‘slow’ providers.
My grandfather, Charles K. Cooper, founder of this newspaper, never tried to beat everyone else to the deadline with daily news, but worked to have the news that impacted the community in a timely fashion.
As we looked over the recent history, our pandemic years, we saw a shift to on-line news sources for immediate and small recaps of events. We have also seen a significant increase in costs for some items, and problems with service such as staffing.
Rather than increase our subscription and advertising costs to keep pace, we feel it is better to produce a larger and higher quality newspaper once a week. We have seen increases in our two largest costs, printing and postage, and expect to have more price increases in the foreseeable future. Those costs are more dependent on the number of issues we publish, rather than the size of the paper. The Monday and Wednesday editions of our newspapers will be combined into one edition on Mondays. We originally planned for this change to take effect on our anniversary, Feb. 6. But, several factors, including that we are already combining papers for the holidays, and to simplify the change-over for our legal notices, we accelerated that date to Jan. 9, 2023.
Our original timeline would have provided an additional month to explain this change. So, below we have, at least tried to, summarized the changes you will be seeing in January.
As we combine the two newspapers into one, we will continue to carry all of the current items.
Columns we currently run on Wednesday, including Rep. Jill Cooper’s new column and The Magic Library Card! by Charles B. Greenburg, will appear on Monday.
The three newspapers, Penn-Franklin News, Delmont Salem News and Penn Trafford News, will continue to be published under their flag.
For our puzzlers, we will continue to run all the puzzles, including 12 sudokus, each week. We suggest our readers pace themselves, doing a few each day. We will continue to watch for special puzzle pages and have recipes and coloring panels.
We will continue to offer free obituaries for those who were residents or had a local connection. The editing policy will remain the same, most notably no listing of grand or great-grandchildren names. We do not run photographs with free obituaries. Display obituaries (paid) will continue to be available, where the family can print the notice as they wish. A photograph will be included in the display at no additional charge. To purchase an obituary make arrangements through the funeral home or contact our office at 724-327-3471 or email@example.com.
As community groups return from the pandemic restrictions, we welcome news of their activities and meetings. We continue to welcome news of sports teams, scout and academic groups from both in and outside of the schools. The newspaper was started on the basis of keeping the residents up to date with the events and notable happenings in their community, and we plan to continue that practice.
As a weekly newspaper holding the proper postal permits, we will continue to fall under the state regulations to be an official, or legal, newspaper for local governments. We are putting in our yearly request to be the official paper for those government agencies we currently serve, and anticipate most, if not all, of the boards will continue to use our newspapers. Our new legal rates remain a fraction of the cost of the daily newspaper alternative, providing our communities an economical way to meet the legal requirements while keeping the community informed.
As part of our transition, and as a thank you to our subscribers, current subscribers will receive two free months as of Jan. 1, 2023. Subscriptions will then be extended so readers receive double the months left on their subscription. For example, a January 2024 subscription would receive the two free months, then be extended 12 months for their remaining time, making their new subscription due in March 2025.
This will take a bit of time to reset the subscriptions and verify any payments currently being received. Please give us some time before calling to see when your subscription will be due. We will continue to send a postcard when your subscription is due.
As part of our database rebuild, some of our recent subscription bills were sent out late. For those who have not renewed with the postcard, we can honor the renewal rates ($25.75/year based on 98 issues per year) through January. All payments will be credited to the account then the free and extended time will be added. Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the one year (52 issue) rate will be $15 per year. Subscriptions on-line will continue to have a service charge added.
The single copy cost, here at the office and at our store locations, will remain 50 cents per issue.
All paid classifieds will be extended, based on the number of issues remaining as of Jan. 1. A new date code will appear on the classified in January. To start, free classifieds will run for two weeks (2 issues). We will review this practice part way through 2023 to see how it works or if any changes are needed.
New classified rates will be $4.00 for the first issue, and $2.00 for each additional issue. Extra words (over the base 16 words) will be 5¢ per word per week. Deadlines will remain at 5 p.m. on Wednesday for the Monday paper.
New display advertising rates will be announced in January and take effect Feb. 1, 2023. There will be a minor rate increase. The combination rate for two consecutive issues will no longer be offered. Deadlines for the Monday paper will remain the same.
We will continue two items started as part of our Volume 75 celebration. The church directory listings, for local churches, will remain free as long as the listing is kept up to date. Subscribers will also continue to receive free birthday and anniversary ads, and discounts on larger ads marking these milestones.
As always, we welcome input from our readers. Send notes by mail or drop them off at the office at 4021 Old William Penn Highway, Murrysville, PA 15668. The phone number remains 724-327-3471. Emails for news items can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Advertising items can be sent to email@example.com. Questions, including subscription questions, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. As part of this new schedule we are anticipating the staff to have some more free time. We appreciate the number of comments and concerns we receive about the extended hours we spend collecting and processing the news, and publishing the paper.
While we will be cutting back to a more ‘normal’ work week, Georgia’s cell will remain available any time, except when she’s covering a meeting.
We plan to have more details about the change in January and February as we receive questions from our readers and flush out any unforeseen problems.
For the staff and family of the Penn-Franklin News, this is Charles Boring, grandson of founders Charles K. and Maxine Cooper, third generation bringing the newspaper to our readers.