“After nearly 15 years of publishing seven days a week, I do not take this decision lightly,” McNeely said, “but eliminating the Monday edition strengthens our financial position, thus ensuring our presence here for years to come.”
The newspaper’s final Monday edition will be New Year’s Eve. It will not publish a printed Monday edition starting Jan. 7.
Now in its 140th year, the Daily Mountain Eagle converted from a twice-weekly newspaper to a daily publication on May 2, 1960, then printing five days a week Monday through Friday.
The award-winning newspaper added its Sunday edition on May 25, 1986, and later became a seven-day publication when it added Saturday on April 4, 1998.
According to McNeely, no adjustments will be made to current subscription rates. “In effect, dropping our Monday edition keeps us from increasing subscription rates across the board,” he says.
At the current monthly rate of $10.25, subscribers will actually pay less than five cents more for the paper each day on a six-day publication schedule. “It still averages less than 40 cents per day,” explains McNeely, who earlier this year reduced the monthly EZ-Pay rate to $9.75.
However, through the end of the year subscribers will have an opportunity to take advantage of rates that will average much less than current daily averages, the publisher notes.
“Next Sunday we launch our most aggressive Holiday subscription special ever, which offers up to 27 percent off our current annual subscription rate. This special will more than offset the loss of the Monday edition,” McNeely says.
The Holiday special includes a 12-month, carrier-delivery subscription of only $89.99. A six-month subscription will be $49.99. No discounts will be available for quarterly or monthly subscriptions. The Holiday special starts Monday, Nov. 19, and will end Dec. 31.
Home-delivery subscribers also receive the new Walker Magazine, a glossy magazine distributed quarterly in January, April, July and October.
The decision to drop a publication day follows similar decisions by other daily newspapers here in Alabama and nationwide. The Anniston Star dropped its Monday edition most recently.
And, of course, the state’s three largest metro newspapers in Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile converted to a three-day print schedule last month in an effort to prioritize their joint digital presence with AL.com. They also collectively reduced their workforce by more than 400.
“No one will lose their job at the Daily Mountain Eagle due to the elimination of our Monday printed edition,” assures McNeely. “And there are no plans for additional cuts in publication days.”
Monday editions are commonly the least profitable editions for daily newspapers in any market, according to McNeely. And significant increases in production costs make it difficult for small-market newspapers to break even on Mondays, he noted.
The cost of newsprint alone has more than tripled since the Daily Mountain Eagle started publishing seven days a week. “And during the past 15 years we have made minimal rate adjustments to offset those costs. We just cannot continue to absorb the escalating costs of producing a printed newspaper seven days a week,” McNeely says.
In the meantime, the Daily Mountain Eagle continues to invest in its people and the community. This year alone, the newspaper has invested more than $100,000 in prepress computer hardware and software upgrades and is currently investing $50,000 in interior and exterior renovations of its Jasper office space located at 1301 East Viking Dr.
In addition to its new quarterly magazine, the newspaper this year has also upgraded its AP wire service to include photos, updated to daily TV listing grids and added local features such as arrest reports, restaurant ratings and a new business section on Wednesdays.
And the newspaper continues its fundraising efforts this Holiday season with its annual, nonprofit Daily Mountain Eagle Christmas Shoe Fund drive, which annually supports more than 500 area children.
“It is our goal here to be a good steward of the community. That will never change,” McNeely concludes.