Waterloo, Mason City newspapers to cut print editions to three days a week
Remaining print editions will be expanded with more content, management says
WATERLOO — Two longtime Iowa newspapers are cutting back to three print editions a week from six times a week and plan to beef up their remaining print editions.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and the Mason City Globe-Gazette each announced the changes, effective June 20, simultaneously in their Sunday print editions today.
The papers, management said, will still post an online “e-edition” on the days they do not print a hard-copy paper, and will constantly update their web pages, online apps and social media platforms such as Facebook with breaking news.
The papers are both owned by Davenport-headquartered Lee Enterprises. Their separate news operations are overseen by a single regional editor, and their overall business operations by a single regional president, formerly known as a publisher. The papers will continue to operate those separate news operations with local reporters.
Both papers will now print Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and be mailed out via the U.S. Postal Service. The papers currently use independent contractors to deliver print papers; that would be discontinued. No information was immediately available on how many contractors would be affected.
The Courier, for generations, has published a print edition daily except for Saturday; it experimented briefly with a Saturday edition in the early 2000s. The Globe-Gazette has printed Tuesday through Sunday since the late 2000s.
Similar changes apparently are being implemented at other Lee papers on a selected and staggered basis; The Sioux City Journal also has announced a similar change. Lee owns 77 papers in 26 states.
In announcing the changes pertaining to the Courier and Globe-Gazette, Doug Hines, Lee’s North Iowa regional editor over both papers, wrote: “Our commitment to being the strongest local news provider remains steadfast, but we also continue to change with the habits of our readers,” including a shift to reading news online and away from print.
”As we’ve adjusted to changing news consumption habits, we’ve adapted to some outside forces affecting the local news industry, such as shifts in advertising trends, increasing newsprint costs and the job market,” Hines also wrote.
Starting June 20, Hines told readers, “every print edition will be an expanded edition, with more content, more sections and more pages. Every print day, you’ll have a ‘Sunday’ reading experience that’s bursting with local news….we know you’re going to love the new, more fulfilling print editions.”
The Globe-Gazette was founded in 1858 and the Courier in 1859. The Globe-Gazette has been a Lee property for more than 40 years; Lee bought the Courier in 2002 from Howard Publications of Oceanside, Calif. which acquired the paper from the founding local W.H. Hartman Co. in the early 1980s.
According to online reports, the Courier had a circulation of just under 14,500 as of 2022; down from a peak of over 55,000 in 1983, shortly after Howard had acquired it from Hartman. The Globe-Gazette’s daily circulation was around 7,600 as of 2022; it was more than 18,800 as of 2006, when the paper announced a circulation increase.
Neither paper has been printed in their respective cities for years. The Globe-Gazette is printed by the Des Moines Register in Des Moines. Following a 2008 flood, the Courier was printed at Color Web Printers, a division of the Cedar Rapids Gazette’s parent company. Then printing was moved a Lee facility closer to the Quad Cities as Color Web discontinued newspaper printing operations in 2021.
The Iowa Writers’ Collaborative
I loved my time at the Courier. Gene Thorne, Ken Murphy, Bill (The Iron Duke)Severin, Stu Haas. Dave Selzer, Jack Bender, George Saucer, Russ Smith, Burk Evans (and brother Kevin), Jim Fickess, Lawn Griffiths, Phyllis Singer, Betty Ferguson, Dave Brown (and brother Doud), Bob Case, Jim Humphrey, Dick Cole, Dan Jacobs, Carolyn Cole, Lamont Olsen, Dave Martin...yikes! So many people I fondly remember. Even Bob McCoy, who made certain I had a job when I was discharged, became a friend. So many years ago. So many changes.
Losing our local voice is so painful and I imagine anyone involved in the local news business feels that same pain. You're the last of a special breed, Pat, and I appreciate reading your work. Keep it coming.
This is so sad. Thank you for telling us, Pat.