Home Opinion Editorial Change in unprecedented times

Change in unprecedented times

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By Publisher Barbara Beck
and Editor John Dilmore

The Roswell Daily Record has been delivering news to the communities of Chaves County and southeast New Mexico for well over a century. In that span there have been good times and bad times — plenty of both. The newspaper has survived through it all.

It’s operated in the face of national turmoil and uncertainty brought on by wars and terror attacks; it’s weathered a Great Depression, countless recessions and other periodic financial downturns, some of them devastating to the news industry along with the rest of the economy.

The newspaper has adapted through wave upon wave of changing technology. In recent years, until now, that’s been perhaps our greatest challenge.

Some theorize the Daily Record has even survived, along with the rest of our town, a brush with extraterrestrial visitation.

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The newspaper has survived these many challenges and more over the years by changing — the way any other longstanding business changes. It has reacted and adapted as the world around it has required that.

The Roswell Daily Record will survive the coronavirus pandemic, as well. But not without once again changing and adapting.

We’re fortunate. The changes we’re making are few compared to those undertaken by many of our fellow newspapers in the face of this dreadful near-collapse of the economy. But this is significant. Beginning in September, we’ll publish five print editions per week rather than six, eliminating our Saturday publication.

We’ll publish print editions Tuesday through Friday, and of course on Sunday. Added emphasis will be placed on that Sunday edition. Already our biggest and most widely read newspaper each week, it will become bigger, with more content.

And we’ll continue covering the news daily using our website. Breaking news that occurs on Fridays will still make it to readers — online — within a regular news cycle. We’ve operated throughout this pandemic and don’t plan on taking any days off.

We’ve not decided here whether elimination of the Saturday edition is a permanent change. Like most businesses, we’re keeping watch on the economic situation and remaining flexible.

Why is this change necessary? Broadly, we’re dealing with the same thing community newspapers around the country have been since March. On one hand, newspapers’ relationships with their readers have been reinforced as people’s need for information about the virus’ impacts on their communities has driven them to sources they’ve come to trust.

On the other hand, local newspapers and other media have been hit hard as traditional brick and mortar businesses, beset by lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, have cut back or ceased advertising.

As the pandemic has devastated commerce across the U.S., it’s had a tremendous negative impact on the business of local news. So at a time when they’re as needed as they’ve ever been, local newspapers have seen the business operations that underpin their newsgathering efforts take a hit.

More specific to Roswell, the Daily Record is woven into the fabric of the local business community, the same as any other business. As our local business community suffers, so do we. And all of us who live here are aware of the toll the pandemic and shutdown orders have taken.

Again, we’ll continue covering daily the issues impacting our community — no changes there. We view that as a mission. And we know that it is vital.

We wrote on this page last year, about the importance of real information when our world is plagued by deception masquerading as news: “Newspapers serve to keep readers not just more informed, but more active and involved civically. … Newspapers also routinely bring to light challenges faced by those who might otherwise have no voice. … Concerned people will generally attempt to make right the wrongs they know about. But they have to know about them. … Does anyone really trust fake news-saturated social media platforms to inspire worthwhile change?”

That was written long before anyone had heard of COVID-19. It doesn’t take a crisis like the pandemic to demonstrate the value of dependable information. That being said: Count us among those who have a hard time imagining navigating a crisis without it.

We’ve already mentioned several ways that the Daily Record is like other businesses. There’s at least one other way: To do these things — and we ask you to keep this in mind — we need your support.

None of us know what’s going to come next. But whatever occurs, the Daily Record will be here for it, and we know Roswell, like other communities across the country, will be better prepared for whatever the future looks like with its local newspaper at its side. But to get there, we now once again need to change and adapt.

Change is nothing new. And it’s not unusual. It’s often due to circumstances beyond our control.

If any of us had forgotten that, we’ve gotten a reminder and then some over the past five months. In times as unprecedented as these, change eventually comes to us all.

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Barbara Beck is publisher of the Roswell Daily Record. She can be reached at bbeck@rdrnews.com. John Dilmore is editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at editor@rdrnews.com.