We had high hopes when we first started the Appalachian. Believe it or not, we didn't do it on a whim.
Before we even started looking at reporters, we went to the business community and asked if they would advertise. We had good feedback and verbally they were on board. We went to the towns and discussed advertising. Again, they also promised that they would support the return of a local newspaper. Community groups also promised to share content and support us through what advertising revenues they could afford.
We found a first set of carriers, kids located in and around the school for the most part. And we found an excellent fledgling journalist in Jaymie L. White, who has a talent for finding interesting people and things, and getting to the heart of the matter. The paper seemed to be doing well when it comes to feedback. It routinely sold out of stores and carriers were making some progress at building their routes.
But the truth is the Appalachian never really got off the ground. Those early promises didn't come to fruition, and we've had trouble finding and keeping carriers. We just had another one quit this week, putting us back to seven. The most we've ever managed is eight.
The Wreckhouse Weekly demographic is half the size, half the problems, and more than twice the success. There's a waitlist of backups who want their own routes. The business community does its part to support local news while reaping consistent benefits. We receive regular support from the funeral homes, the posting of municipal and legal notices, and even advertisements from non-profit and community groups.
In contrast, the Appalachian has consistently lost a significant amount of money on a weekly basis since it first started. It has none of the support that the Weekly enjoys, and we have spent six months trying to change that with absolutely no progress. In fact, it's gotten worse. Where it does well is online, but that's still not enough to cover basic costs (i.e. to pay a reporter). And like everything else, the price of paper and ink has skyrocketed.
So this is the last edition of The Appalachian in print and largely online. We will have stories from the Stephenville area every now and again – geographically it's close enough that there's a lot of overlap, but for all intents and purposes this is the end of the line.
For those of you with paper carriers and the few advertisers we have, we'll be in touch within the next week to discuss your subscriptions and options, etc.
For the online subscribers, the only thing that will change is that instead of a Wednesday edition dropping at once, stories will be posted to web as they are complete, and there won't be as much content from the Bay St. George area. It will all appear in the Wreckhouse Weekly newspaper section from now on.
To those of you who supported us and continue to do so, we offer our most sincere and heartfelt thanks.
René J. Roy