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You get a lot of news, information for $1.25



HALVERSON_2010
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Halverson (click for larger version)
February 22, 2012 | 07:32 AM
I can hear the voices ringing in my ears already.

"$1.25 for a local paper!?"

It's true. The Lake Geneva Regional News is going to $1.25 at stores — a 25 cent per copy increase — starting with the March 1 edition that hits the stands next Wednesday. It's our first single copy increase in eight years. Some newspapers cost more; some cost less. (And you can still pay less for the Regional News if you take out a subscription.)

We think we're worth every penny. Here's why:

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We produce more local news than all the other newspapers in the county — combined. Look at us and count the stories. For most of the year we're providing 32 to 36 pages of local news and advertising in the Regional News and up to 48 pages in The Resorter, which is stuffed inside every copy and goes out free to stores, too. Plus we have almost all the local and national advertising inserts. Compare that to many daily papers and we provide far more local news at a fraction of their price.

While other newspapers are failing left and right and cutting staff, we've maintained a strong editorial department to provide you with news, features, and what-to-do information.

Our sports coverage is second to none and we still make room for obituaries, school news and photos. We're one of the few papers still providing a weekly TV schedule. Over the years we've added color, a website, Facebook and Twitter to our arsenal.

A lot of those big papers that are struggling are talking about "hyper local" — covering small areas well and letting the national papers handle more of the national and international news. That formula is nothing new to us.

Local is what people want from their hometown papers and we've been covering local for 140 years and counting. But the big boys can't afford to cover local like we do; they don't have the staff to cover their vast circulation areas. We manage to cover the entire Geneva Lake area and some of the rest of the county and do it well.

We've remained a strong, independent voice on our editorial page. We've pushed for open records and open meetings. We've expressed strong opinion and allowed space for those who don't agree with us.

Our editorial department is independent. While we're owned by a larger organization, they have no say over what we write or cover. That's a credit to my bosses and a plus for independent journalism. We all live in the area, so we have a far better feel for it than out-of-towners.

We're also a billboard for advertisers. Advertising is "news" too. I'm proud that we have the best and fastest and most dedicated ad designer around and a support team around him. Our color reproduction has improved dramatically since we started printing on the state-of-the-art press in Janesville.

We've been good citizens too. We have ad packages that make us more affordable than ever. We're active members of the chamber of commerce. We put in a new sidewalk a few years ago. Ok, I might be stretching there.

So are we asking for an extra 25 cents because we're greedy?

No, we just want to make sure we can pay for the product we provide. Printing the paper costs nearly $200,000 a year, far more than it did eight years ago. Delivering it, between dropping it off at stores and the mail, costs us $50,000, and we've paid increased postal expenses just like you have. Insurance for our employees? That's multiplied too.

We remain a vital source of information. Sure, we have a website and we hope that's valuable, but there's a lot more in the paper itself ... and you can't line a birdcage with a website.

Do I protest too much?

Maybe so. But I know in this day and age even a quarter seems like something. But just think — if you pass up one soda today, you'll cover the increase for an entire month.

And if you want a less expensive option, consider our subscription rates. They're unchanged and you can save between 30 percent and 55 percent.

We even have a new subscription option so you can pick the paper up at our office on Wednesday or at your convenience if you don't want to wait for it in the mail. Just call our office for more details, (262) 248-4444.

If I haven't convinced you, or you want to complain for awhile, give me a call at the same number. That part is free.

Halverson is the general manager of the Regional News.

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