Press-Register subscribers will get a special letter wrapped around their Sunday paper explaining several changes coming to the thrice-weekly newspaper, according to employees and internal documents.
Perhaps the most noticeable of these changes will be that the paper will go to a format where it only has two sections, even on Sunday. That represents a large change from last Sunday’s paper that had seven sections.
The letter, written by former Press-Register Managing Editor Dewey English, will help explain that change and others, such as doing away with both the Mobile Press and Baldwin Register sections that contained community news. English currently works from Birmingham.
A P-R employee says at a meeting Thursday morning in the paper’s current Water Street building, Alabama Media Group President Matt Sharp outlined the changes, describing them as being better for local news.
The employee said that while the Press and Register sections will be gone, Sharp said the paper will be doing more community news than ever. The design will have an A section featuring primarily local news and a B section led by sports carrying community news and other features.
A document called “Customer Response Plan and Messaging” obtained by Lagniappe says, “New labeling and organization will allow us to get more news about you and where you live, work and play into print as (sic) ever before.”
Some other changes will hit features such as comics. After this week, “serialized” comics such as “Funky Winkerbean” and “Doonesbury” will still have the entire week’s worth of comics printed over the course of the week’s three papers. However, most other comics will just appear in that day’s edition and off days will not be printed. Other features such as “Dear Abby” and “Heloise” will also see some changes.
According to the document, the paper’s opinion page will now move to become more locally oriented instead of carrying a mix of local and national opinion. Bay Weekend will also continue being printed as a separate tabloid on Fridays.
On the advertising side of things employees were told Page 3 would no longer have advertising. This news came as a surprise to many, according to an insider, especially since that is a spot traditionally held by Shoe Station, one of the paper’s largest advertisers. Employees were told major accounts had been informed of the change to Page 3, which is aimed at supplying more local news.
One employee expressed alarm at that change in particular.
“I don’t really feel like they’re telling us the truth,” the employee said. The employee expressed the opinion that most of the changes were being made to save newsprint costs.
On the plus side, P-R employees can look forward to new digs in the Kress Building downtown on Royal Street just south of where it meets Dauphin Street. Among those who feel the Water Street office has become empty and lonely, a new office in the bustling downtown is welcome. That change is slated for the summer. The Water Street building has been for sale and a deal was pending with Bishop State Community College.
Sources said that while the changes are something management is excited about, they will also be watching the reactions and following how it goes.