DOVER – Citing inflationary cost hikes on paper, ink, printing plates and gas, as well as rising labor costs amid a tight market, the Delaware State News recently announced that it would cease printing two days a week, breaking its daily schedule for the first time in nearly 70 years.
The loss of the 120-year-old newspaper’s Saturday and Monday editions will also bring an unwanted distinction to Delaware – one of just a few states to no longer have any daily printed newspapers.
The News Journal, the state’s largest newspaper, dropped its Saturday print edition in March, breaking its daily cycle it also held for many decades. The News Journal and the State News were the only papers still printing a daily edition until this year.
Although there isn’t a clear accounting of production cycles nationwide, it appears that Wyoming, Utah and Vermont are other states that no longer have any daily print newspapers following cuts at their largest papers in the last few years.
“Printing and delivering the Delaware State News seven days a week is an ever-more expensive undertaking. Even if these costs magically diminished, we still must recognize the unavoidable truth that the proliferation of smart mobile phones and the Internet have now profoundly and irreversibly changed how news and information is reported and shared,” Darel La Prade, group publisher for INI Delmarva, the State News’ parent company, wrote in a May 22 column announcing the move.
The newspaper, which had a daily circulation of about 10,000 copies in 2020, said “an extensive analysis of both advertising sales and purchases of single copies … concluded that our costs on Saturdays and Mondays far outweigh our revenue.”
Those findings are not atypical for the industry, where those days tend to be among newspapers’ weakest performers bookending the most-desired Sunday edition.
Aside from cutting the two days from its print schedule starting July 1, the State News will also print on a smaller page size of 12 inches long rather than 15 inches. While there will no longer be printed editions starting this summer, the State News will continue to publish online on Saturdays and Mondays, and it will launch a redesign of its print product.
“The decision to downscale print is a very carefully considered, long-term, proactive plan to push our evolution into a more digitally focused organization, with a top-quality, affordable print product five days a week. We believe our work as journalists is of the utmost importance to our community, and our aim is to make certain our vital work continues long into the future,” La Prade wrote.
The publisher noted that the loss of two print editions will “immediately help to relieve the tremendous burden and pressure on our business,” allowing the State News to keep its current subscription pricing and maintain, or possibly increase, its workforce. The paper’s newsroom currently has 17 staffers, the most it’s had in the last decade.
The State News has traditionally had a strong statehouse reporting corps, being headquartered in the Kent County Aero Park near Dover Air Force Base. It has also widely covered Kent and Sussex counties but has branched north in covering New Castle County in recent years as well.
Last year, INI Delmarva launched Bay to Bay News, a comprehensive web presence for the State News and its smaller sister newspapers in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.