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Commentary: Our newspaper is adjusting with some changes

The world is changing today. Change is happening politically, educationally, technologically, financially and medically ... there is constant change and it is impacting every sector of our lives.

The same is true with information as well. And this change has been happening in the newspaper world - in print and digitally - over the past decade.

In recent years, we changed our name to West Central Tribune Media, as we sell more than just newspaper advertising. We provide marketing opportunities and consulting with our newspaper, our digital website, specialty magazines, across our company's 40-plus websites in the upper Midwest and even in other media websites via specific demographics and geographic topics.

This month is the 100th anniversary of the ownership of Forum Communications Company by the Black and Marcil families. This includes five generations of business leadership in the company. Our ownership family is very dedicated and wants to continue our media businesses for its generations to come.

Our readers have noticed a change in some pages and content in recent weeks in the West Central Tribune. It is an outgrowth of balancing local news, advertising and business objectives.

In March, our company made a switch to a new national/world news provider in USA Today. We are running two pages of USA Today national and world content every day. The key for this addition is that it allows the Tribune staff to focus on their priority of local and breaking news coverage here.

In April, the Tribune has made some other content changes, even reducing the number of pages in our print edition some days. This newspaper is not unique in making page adjustments; papers across the country are dealing with similar scenarios. Honestly, newspapers have made page adjustments every day for decades as we publish a completely new product and have different advertisements from varying businesses each day.

How many other businesses do you know that build a complete new and different product every single day?

We are not eliminating or closing the print edition. We are making some page adjustments in order to meet our business objectives. Some days will have fewer pages than readers are used to. Some days other pages, like the Opinion page, may share space with other content. Some sections, like Sports, Showcase or Channels, might have fewer pages than in the past.

On other days, advertising demand may be up and we will be running more pages in that day's newspaper. This week, for example, we ran 22 additional pages for our Focus: Spotlight project. We hope you enjoyed the content.

We are working to balance our resources, improve our local coverage focus and expand our digital coverage on Wctrib.com.

We are publishing significantly more content - local, state, national and world news - on Wctrib.com, our primary digital platform. Our website is updated on a regular basis, virtually every hour from the early morning until late into the evening during the week and frequently on the weekend.

Our readers are reading our content in print and online. In fact, West Central Tribune Media's combined readership is at the highest level ever in our 122-year history.

In March, for example, our print edition had 12,000+ subscribers and Wctrib.com had 1.81 million pageviews and 214,800 users online. Even our staunchest media critics read our content on Wctrib.com, for free as they do not subscribe, but their pageview reads support our digital revenue and we appreciate it.

We will continue to address content concerns and make necessary changes as we move forward. Thank you to every reader who has called or emailed this month to tell us what they like or don't like. We truly appreciate your feedback and ask you to keep those comments coming.

Some readers are angry and a few have even cancelled their subscriptions. Those readers have every right to do that, but it does not help or solve the issue. Our business, like every other local business, depends upon local customer support - in our case, advertisers, subscribers and readers. We are also a business and have to make adjustments from time to time to manage our budget, achieve our goals and provide the best content we can.

Our media company is privileged to serve Willmar, Kandiyohi County and west central Minnesota. We strive to reflect the hopes, dreams and challenges of our readers and our advertising customers in our communities and region. We want to thank the readers every day: every daily subscriber, the 71,600 daily visitors to Wctrib.com and the readers of our other products.

Thank you all for reading the West Central Tribune, Wctrib.com and our other media products.

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