News & Opinion » Urban Journal

A letter to our readers

This is a time of profound change in American media. And it comes at a time of major challenges for the people and institutions we serve and report on.

Those challenges offer news media tremendous opportunities, and we're all seeking ways to take advantage of them. Done well, the result will be better journalism, reaching broader audiences. Done well, the result will be stronger contributions to our readers, our communities, and democracy.

It is no secret, though, that the media – in particular, print media – are planning how do their jobs better in the face of major challenges of their own. Technology – websites, mobile, social media, etc. – has given print readers many ways to get their information. Advertisers, too, have numerous options. So print advertising has declined, and ads on the media's own websites don't bring in the same revenue.

CITY has not been exempt from that trend. We have had only minimal print circulation drop over the past several years, and readership on our digital platforms – our website and e-newsletters – is growing. But we have begun to experience some of the same print revenue decline that newspapers throughout the country are experiencing.

As a result, we're taking a step none of us likes to take. We are reducing our staff by two, one person in editorial and one in sales. Both are talented, hard-working, dedicated people, and they will be missed, not only by us but also by the segments of the community they have served.

At the same time, however, we are embarking on a course that will result in a robust group of print and digital publications that will produce high-quality journalism and will serve the community in broad, dynamic ways for decades to come.

For the past six months, a group representing each department at CITY has been meeting weekly, assessing our challenges and making recommendations for our future.

CITY's structure, and its basic approach to news coverage, has been the same since it was founded 45 years ago. We continue to operate in the same departments – the same silos, to use the trendy, corporate word – that we had 45 years ago, when we published only a small, weekly neighborhood newspaper.

Our interdepartmental planning team, called the Future CITY team, has completed its recommendations, and we have begun to work with our full staff to execute those recommendations.

You will see those recommendations go into effect over the next several months, in the design of our print edition, for example, in our outreach in the community, and in new content and new treatment of content in print and online.

One example: last week's article on UR medical researchers Jonathan Stone and Ahmed Ghazi, researched and written by senior writer Tim Louis Macaluso with an additional layer of storytelling online: a video created and produced by a talented new member of our staff, Kevin Fuller.

There will be much more of this kind of journalism, enabling us to cover local news, the arts, and this community's amazing entertainment offerings in a much more dynamic, engaging way. The result will not be less news content but more, not weaker content but stronger, provided in a variety of platforms, very much including print.

We will also be reaching out to you, asking for your opinions, criticisms, and ideas.

Challenges are not easy. But the CITY staff has extraordinary talent and skill, and everyone here has an intense dedication to this community. We look forward to serving you and to covering this extraordinary community in new and stronger ways in the decades to come.

– Bill and Mary Anna Towler, co-publishers