You asked – We answered

Published: 5/18/2022 11:36:17 AM
Modified: 5/18/2022 11:34:31 AM

In 2021, the Monitor sent out a reader survey that asked you to weigh in on some key issues. We also asked what you valued most, and you told us –local news, sports, opinion and catching up on who in our communities we’ve lost. We also asked you to send us your questions. Here are some of the topics that came up most often in the many responses we received.

What’s been the impact of COVID-19 on advertising?

There’s no getting around it. The pandemic had and continues to have an enormous impact on our business. In the early months of the pandemic, many businesses were closed, and our advertising revenue was essentially cut in half. The financial support we received from readers in our COVID-19 Local News Fund donation drive truly helped keep things going. And as businesses rebounded, we found our footing. But it continues to be tough. Some local advertisers have scaled back because they don’t have the staffing to keep up with demand. Others are mired in supply chain challenges. Hopefully, these issues will be short-term.

How has COVID-19 changed staffing?

In the newsroom, we had to lay off one employee in the early days of COVID. That person has since been rehired. We cut two support positions in the advertising department at the beginning of 2021. Those positions have not been replaced.

How did the pandemic change deadlines?

In the early days of the pandemic, we were forced into a far earlier print deadline. That meant we printed the paper at 5 p.m. We’ve since moved our deadline back to 8 p.m., which allows us on occasion to print stories that happen later in the day. The early deadlines have limited our ability to print late professional sports scores and late-breaking stories from around the world. It hasn’t limited anything that we do online. In fact, because we now start earlier, the new deadlines have helped us get more local news to readers during the workday, which is when we see our highest volume of online readership.

Why is the paper smaller and how does the size of the paper directly correlate to ads?

Our paper is smaller these days. We publish 16- page papers Tuesday through Friday, 28 pages on Sunday and 12 on Monday and Saturday. That is directly related to the amount of advertising. Some days, we do add pages to the paper because of advertising, such as our Veterans Day paper, which was 20 pages because of a high volume of advertisers thanking veterans.

Why pay the same subscription amount for a smaller paper? You used COVID as a reason to diminish the size of the paper.

Hopefully, you’ll find value in the local journalism we produce on a daily basis. Our journalists are covering news from across the region on a daily basis, and we’re producing the same amount of news that we did prior to the pandemic. The smaller papers generally mean there is less content from the world in general and from things like professional sports. We understand those topics have value to many readers. But our focus is on covering the local news you can’t get elsewhere. That all costs money to produce, and a subscription to the Monitor helps us pay for local newsgathering.

Why do you have a paywall on your website?

Many of the same reasons apply. Without a paywall, we would be a far smaller organization, and dedicated readers would get far less from their local newsroom. Print and digital subscribers can ac- cess as many articles as they want as long as they are signed in. Non-subscribers can read three stories per month before being asked to register. We did make one major change at the start of the pandemic that we continue today. Stories that give readers information about when and where to get a vaccine, the latest on masking regulations and our weekly COVID Tracker update are free to all users. If you’d like to become a digital subscriber, it’ll cost a little over $2 per week. Sign up at concordmonitor.com. For about $5 per week, you can get the paper delivered to your home each day –plus you’ll get full digital access.

Why are you including news from the Granite State News Collaborative?

For those who don’t know, the Granite State News Collaborative is a nonprofit partnership between many news organizations across the state, including the Monitor, the Valley News, the Laconia Daily Sun, New Hampshire Public Radio, New Hampshire Public Television and many others. The partnership was started before the pandemic, but really blossomed in a time of need. We relied heavily on the Collaborative to help inform our readers on the news happening elsewhere in the state. We believe this coverage helped our communities better understand challenges across New Hampshire and how they were being met.

What is the Monitor’s political stance in terms of coverage?

The Concord Monitor is not politically affiliated. Our goal is to report the news from and for our local communities.

Why don’t you allow commenting on stories online?

For a long time, we allowed commenting on all our online stories, as long as commenters used their real names and they kept their interactions civil. Unfortunately, commenting became increasingly toxic on our website. Some users created fake accounts multiple times a day, and they often crossed the line with the type of language you would never use if discussing a topic at the kitchen table. Our editors spent much of their day moderating the comments attached to our stories. In the end, we felt that the comments on our stories did little to foster constructive dialogue. We always hoped our website would be a place where readers could openly share ideas and perspectives with little moderation. However, we still publish letters to the editor in print and on our site.

Why don’t you include more conservative opinions? You only run letters to the editor that suit your agenda.

We hear this quite a bit. Yes, our liberal-leaning readers submit more letters to the editor. But we never reject a letter because we don’t personally agree with an argument. As long as the letter is written by a local resident, it follows our guidelines of civil discourse and the content isn’t misleading, we will publish the letter. We strive to have a balanced and varied scope in the opinion section. We don’t select letters or columns based on political stance. We know there are voices out there that we have not heard from before, and we’d like to. If you have a question about a topic you’re interested in writing about or questions about the submission or editing process, email letters@cmonitor.com.

Bring back political endorsements and editorials.

The Monitor still reserves its ability to take a stand with an editorial. The truth is, we feel our community needs our reporting more than it needs our opinion. Our editors work closely with reporters to deliver news that is fair and impartial. We cannot ask those same editors to then offer their opinions on the very stories they are editing. We must check our opinions at the door. We appreciate the desire to have the Monitor take strong stances on key issues and political races, but we hope we can play a far more important role by giving you the information you need to come to your own conclusions.

Please address your paper delivery issues.

Yes, this can at times be an issue. Like most other businesses in the state, we’re feeling the impacts of a tough job market. We’re working on it, and we’ll continue to do so. Delivering newspapers has always been difficult. Those who deliver our paper are incredibly dedicated and hardworking, and we thank them for all they do.


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