This Letter from the Editor will be harder to write than any I've written in the last two years. I want our readers to know that we are as sad and disappointed as they are: The Patriot newspaper will be closing with a final issue next week.
The Patriot newspaper was bought by a new owner on April 1 of 2011 to keep the weekly community newspaper alive—even though it had fallen on hard times financially. The Patriot competed with the Webster Times, which, once a subscription-based publication like The Patriot, switched some years ago to a requester model, distributing it free to anyone on request.
The Patriot kept the subscription model, allowing publishing to continue. However, it was now competing with “free,” and that is hard to do in a world in which many newspapers are struggling for survival. In addition, The Patriot had some issues with content published by the previous owner which contributed to the near-demise of the paper at that time as well.
Advertisers chose the Webster Times, with its larger circulation in Webster, Dudley, and Oxford and its much greater regional clout.
Two years ago, when I joined the paper, we began work on a new Patriot, one that would focus on the hard news of town boards and meetings, as well as news of the schools, society, sports, and the myriad of events the three towns hold every year. To do this right, we had to hire people, reporters and photographers to cover the meetings and events. We also built a website so that we could post stories as they happened, and hundreds of you checked it out every day.
Gradually, we started hearing from readers and residents that The Patriot had again become a newspaper that they looked forward to reading every week and that we were doing a great job of covering the towns’ news. We were proud of our work and expected the subscription numbers to increase and the advertising to follow. But, it didn’t. And so it has become economically unfeasible for us to continue.
There have been other factors at work too. The economy has been in a recession. Many advertisers have switched to other forms of communication with their customers: online display ads, websites, social media, emails, “groupons.” There is also the general trend that more and more readers are going online for their news.
We will publish the last issue of The Patriot next week, May 8, 2013. We will talk with you more then about all the people who made The Patriot a credible newspaper the last two years.
We believe that there can be synergy between a print publication and its online version. We plan to explore that possibility with our sister publication, the Yankee Shopper, which we will continue to publish.
Barbara Van Reed
Note to subscribers: we will begin issuing refunds after May 8. Please send us a message to let us know if you would like to have a refund, or if you would like us to donate the remainder of your subscription to the Hubbard Emergency Room fund, where it will be matched by an anonymous donor.