From the editor: Creating a new Sunday habit
April 6, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When you pick up the newspaper on Sunday, you'll notice a few changes. First of all, you won't have to pay $1.50 for a copy. Instead, you can grab it for free from one of 250 rack locations across Routt County.
You'll also notice the paper has a new masthead and a new name — the Steamboat Pilot & Today — a fresh brand that blends the history of the 132-year-old Steamboat Pilot with the newer free distribution model of the Steamboat Today.
Now, on Sundays, our content will be made available to twice as many readers, which we view as a benefit to both locals and visitors, and the advertising, which makes our publications possible, will reach double the number of potential customers.
This change was made at the local level. Our management team studied the market, assessed the information gathered from reader surveys and evaluated the distribution history of the Sunday newspaper, which has been declining for many years along with advertising revenue.
According to reader surveys, which were conducted in the summer and fall of 2017, 25 percent of those responding either subscribed or purchased a copy of the Sunday paper and 51 percent said they would read the Sunday edition more frequently if it were free.
By contrast, the survey revealed that locals, visitors and second homeowners were more loyal readers of the free daily with 80 percent of each of those audiences saying they read the Steamboat Today weekly and 60 percent of them reading it four to six days a week. It was that audience data that factored heavily into our decision to take Sunday free.
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We also took reader feedback into consideration when deciding on a new name for the seven-day-a-week, free newspaper. After surveying readers and advertisers on whether they preferred Steamboat Pilot or Steamboat Today, the results were almost evenly split. Therefore we decided to keep both names and rebrand the newspaper as the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
As far as content for the Sunday edition, you can expect to find a strong Sunday story, longer and more in-depth, which gives the Steamboat Pilot & Today's talented team of journalists and photographers an opportunity to focus on important issues facing our community. Some weeks we will mix it up with travel features or photo-heavy pieces depending on time of year and who we think might be reading the newspaper that weekend.
The Sunday edition will also include our popular business and real estate section. We also have plans to add book and movie reviews, a wine column, an Out and About photo page featuring a round-up of Saturday events and a new "From the Pilot Archives" feature that highlights news or photos from Routt County's past. This content will be added as the Sunday page count increases when advertisers realize the appeal of its expanded distribution.
I sincerely hope that picking up the free newspaper will become part of your Sunday morning routine. And as always, I would welcome your comments on our new seven-day-a-week, free Steamboat Pilot & Today.