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Steamboat Pilot & Today makes Swift printing move

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Suzanne Schlicht

Steamboat Pilot & Today Publisher Suzanne Schlicht recently announced that the newspaper had "said goodbye to a tradition dating back more than 100 years" – namely a change in where the publication would be printed. The change from printing locally to printing at the Colorado Mountain News Media (CMNM) production plant in Gypsum became official Oct. 24.

The change came following Swift Communications' acquisition of the newspaper in August. "CMNM is Swift's Rocky Mountain division, and we are now part of that media group," said Schlicht in a column addressing the move.

She added that, "The acquisition did not include ownership of the building we occupy, and soon WorldWest, former owner of Steamboat Pilot & Today, will list the real estate for sale. We've begun the process of searching for a new home, and we expect to move in early summer 2017.”

She also noted that Swift is a "small, family-owned company that does business in communities mostly the size of Steamboat Springs," and offers "significantly more resources than we've had in the past – from training, to innovation, to up-to-date technology."

Changes readers will notice include a newspaper now printed in full color on every page, earlier night deadlines that might impact some local sports coverage (but that will be complemented by up-to-the-minute information and highlights on the newspaper's website and social media platforms), improvement in the quality and content of print and online editions due to those same earlier deadlines, and the addition of Scribble Live, a "new tool that allows readers to contribute to our coverage by adding their voices." Scribble Live was introduced during the newspaper’s election coverage this year.

NNA notes changes in marked copy compliance

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Tonda F. Rush

Tonda F. Rush, director of public policy for The National Newspaper Association (NNA), this month reported on the organization's website that: "A century-old requirement for newspapers using Periodicals Class Mail began to fade into postal history in October when the National Newspaper Association finished a two-year quest to eliminate marked-copy compliance for periodicals mail. Instead, newspapers may now opt for a simple annual validation process."

The marked copy process has been a part of postal rules since the 19th century as "a way to keep shoppers and catalogs from using the preferential Periodicals (formerly second-class) mail, noted Rush.

Newspapers are required to "mark up" every page of each edition mailed to indicate what content is advertising vs. what is editorial copy, with the percentage of ads per page dictating the amount of postage for Outside County mailing.

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Max Heath

But, said NNA Postal Committee Chair Max Heath (pictured), in the new digital age, "This cumbersome requirement began to feel more and more outdated." Plus it requires a trip to the local post office, despite the fact newspapers may file postage statements electronically and pay using an online account.

Newspapers can immediately enroll in the annual validation. Instructions are available on the NNA members' page at www.nnaweb.org.

Once accepted, publishers may immediately cease providing marked copies for every mailing. Newspapers participating in annual validation will now provide – in September during preparation for the October Statement of Ownership process – a randomly selected marked copy issue from the previous year.

If there is a discrepancy greater than a 5 percent understatement of postage, "further processes will be employed to determine whether the newspaper has miscalculated postage all year."

The Denver Post & The Cannabist enjoy audience boosts

It's looking up for The Denver Post online product, as well as for The Cannabist, the newspaper's niche digital product covering the cannabis industry in Colorado and across the United States.

The Post on Nov. 7 reported it had set an "audience record in September with 7.8 million unique visitors," and 14.7 percent "of the total digital audience" in that month. The information came from comScore data, the newspaper reported.

The comScore report said The Post’s "total digital audience surged to a record in September, totaling 7.89 million unique visitors, more than doubling the reach of its closest in-market competitor." The Post said it was the largest audience since at least October 2014, the oldest data available from com.Score.

The newspaper also said that seven of the last nine months "have all shown audience gains as The Post continues a company-wide effort to attract digital readers." The Post reported that the September figure was 89.3 percent jump in uniques over the same month a year ago, and that it attracted 6.2 million mobile-only unique visitors.

Further, The Post said in video – "which continues to be a focus for the news organization as readers continue to migrate online" – it had attracted 1.76 million views for September, according to internal figures, representing a 12 percent month-over-month increase and a 123 percent spike year-over-year.

The Cannabist attracted 801,000 unique visitors, or 198 percent year-over-year greater than a year ago. In comparison, the Weedmaps-owned Marijuana.com (in operation since 1995) had 923,000 uniques, and High Times 720,000, "a nearly 12 percent year-over-year decline."

Last month, The Post reported that in August The Cannabist had surpassed High Times in unique visitors for the first time since the site launched in late 2013, with 885,000 unique visitors to High Times’ 558,000, also according to comScore. High Times has long been a media leader in the space.

ComScore is a third-party analytics platform, similar to television ratings from Nielsen, that measures audience across media properties, brands and advertisers.

News Media Alliance monitoring postal rate decrease

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Paul Boyle

Paul Boyle, senior vice president of public policy at News Media Alliance, says postal rates will go down for many newspapers in 2017. In a recent post on the organization's website, Boyle reported that: "The U.S. Postal Service on Oct. 12 proposed new rates for 2017 that may significantly decrease postage costs for many newspapers using the nation's postal system to deliver Total Market Coverage (TMC) products (e.g. ad inserts to nonsubscribers."

Some major market metros could see a reduction in postage costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars next year, particularly if the TMC package is heavier, he added. The new rates will go into effect on Jan. 22, 2017.

The change comes as the USPS is simplifying the rate structure by removing Flats Sequencing System pricing for Marketing Mail (formerly Standard Mail), and increasing the "piece pound breakpoint" for Saturation, High Density Plus, and High Density flats from 3.3 to 4.0 ounces. "Because of this increase in the piece pound breakpoint," he noted, "newspapers could see a rate decrease of up to 11 percent for TMC packages."

Boyle also pointed out that the rate changes "will depend upon the volume and weight of mailings, and where the mail is entered into the system."

For weeklies there's the good news that: "Rates in 2017 for periodicals within-county will largely remain flat, except for periodicals that use the 5-Digit Automation flats rate, which rises 3.67 percent." New prices could also include a two-cent proposed increase in the price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp.